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Full text of "The works of John Adams, second President of the United States : with a life of the author, notes and illustrations"

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B O S T O N 
















Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by Ciiaelks C. Little and 
James Brown, in tlic Clerk's office of tlie District Com-t of the District of Massachusetts. 







23, To O. WoLcoTT, Secketaky of the Treasury 

24. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 
27. To J. McHexry, Secretary of War . 

1. To T. Pickering, Secretary op State 
1. T. Pickering to John Adams 

3. To T. Pickering, Secretary op State 

4. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

5. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy 

5. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

6. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

8. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy 

13. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

14. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 
16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

23. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy 

24. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

29. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State 

29. B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, to John 
Adams ...... 

















September 4. To B. Stoddert, (private) 

9. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 21 

9. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to T. Pickering, Secre- 
tary OF State, 2 Sept. (inclosed) . . .21 

11. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 23 


1799. PAGE 

September 13. B. Stoddert, Secketary of the Navy, to John 

Adams . . . . . .25 

14. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 29 
16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 29 
18. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 30 

18. O. Ellsworth to John Adams . . .31 

19. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 31 
21. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 33 
21. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 33 

21. To the Heads of Department . . .34 

22. To Chief Justice Ellsworth . . .34 

23. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 35 

24. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 36 

26. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 37 
October 5. O. Ellsworth to John Adams . . .37 

6. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to John Adams . 38 
16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 39 
16. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 39 
18. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 40 

November 12. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 41 

15. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 41 
December 2. To A. J. Dallas . . . . .42 

7. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 42 

Notes on some Observations of the Secretary 

OF THE Treasury . . . . .43 

24. To Tobias Lear . . . . .44 

27. To Mrs. Washington . . . . .45 

January 13. The Heads of Department to the President . 46 

March 10. To Henry Ivnox . . . . . .46 

10. To Benjamin Lincoln . . . . .46 

31. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 47 

31. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . .48 


1800. PAGE 

April 8. Thomas Johnson to John Adams . . .48 

11. To Thomas Johnson . . • . .49 

23. To the Secretary of State and Heads of De- 
partment . . . . . .50 

May 6. J. McHenry, Secretary op War, to John Adams . 51 

10. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 53 

12. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 54 
12. To Timothy Pickering . . . .55 

15. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . .56 

16. To THE Attorney-General and the District-At- 

torney OF Pennsylvania . . .56 

17. To O. WoLcoTT, Secretary of the Treasury . 57 
20. To the Heads of Department . . .57 

20. The Heads of Department to the President . 59 

21. To C. Lee, Secretary of State pro tem. . . 60 

22. To Alexander Hamilton . . . .61 

26. To W. S. Smith . . . . . .61 

26. To Benjamin Stoddert . . . .62 

26. B. Stoddert to John Adams . . . .62 

June 20. To Alexander Hamilton . . . .63 

July 11. To J. ISIarshall, Secretary of State . . 63 

23. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 64 
25. To S. Dexter, Secretary of War . . .65 

30. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . .66 

31. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 66 
31. To J. Marshall, Secretary OF State . .67 

August 1. To J. ]\L4.rshall, Secretary of State . .68 

2. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . .69 

3. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 70 

6. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 71 

7. To J. IVIarshall, Secretary of State . .71 
7. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 72 

11. To J. Marshall, Secretary of State . . 73 


August 12. 








September 4. 







October 3. 



November 8. 



December 19. 

January 24. 

i'ebruary 4. 


To John Trumbull 

To S. Dexter, Secretary of War 

To J. JVIarshall, Secretary op State 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To J. ]VIarshall, Secretary of State 

To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury 

To Barnabas Bid well 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To John Trumbull 

To J. JMarshall, Secretary of State 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To S. Dexter, Secretary of War 

To J. Marshall, Secretary of State 

To 0. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury 

To S. Dexter, Secretary of War 

O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, to 
John Adams .... 

To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury 

John Jay to John Adams (private) 

O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, to 
John Adams 

To John Jay .... 

To John Jay .... 

To George Churchman and Jacob Lindley 

To Elias Boudinot 

To Kichard Stockton . 

To J. Marshall, Secretary op State 

To S. Dexter, Secretary of War 

John Marshall to John Adams 


. 74 

. 76 

. 76 

. 77 

. 78 

. 78 

. 79 

. 80 

. 80 

. 82 

. 82 

. 83 

. 84 

. 84 

. 86 

. 86 

. 87 









February 4. To John Marshall 

4. To Joseph Ward 

7. To Elbridge Gerry 
10. To THE Secretary of State 
March 28. Oliver Wolcott to John Adams 
April 6. To Oliver Wolcott 


. 96 
. 96 
. 97 
. 98 
. 99 
. 100 



4. Inaugural Speech to both Houses of Congress . 105 

May 16. Speech to both Houses of Congress . .111 

Eeply to the Answer of the Senate . .119 

Reply to the Answer of the House of Represent- 
atives ...... 120 

November 23. Speech to both Houses of Congress . .121 

Reply to the Answer of the Senate . .126 

Reply to the Answer of the House of Represent- 
atives ...... 127 

December 8. 

Speech to both Houses of Congress . .128 

Reply to the Answer of the Senate . .134 

Reply to the Answer of the House of Represent- 



December 3. 

Speech to both Houses op Congress . . 136 

Reply to the Answer of the Senate . .. 140 

Reply to the Answer of the House of Represent- 




November 22. 

Reply to the Address of the Senate on the Death 
OF George Washington .... 142 

Speech to both Houses of Congress . . 143 

Reply to the Answer of the Senate . .147 

ReplV to the Answer of the House of Represent- 


. 148 












31. Message to the Senate, nominating Envoys to 

France ...... 150 

12. Message to both Houses of Congress, respecting 

THE Territory of the Natchez . . . 151 

23. Message to both Houses of Congress, on Affairs 

with Algiers . . • . .152 

3. Message to both Houses of Congress, communicat- 
ing information respecting Spain . .154 

8. Message to both Houses of Congress, announcing 
- the Ratification of an Amendment of the Con- 
stitution . . . . . .154 

5. Message to both Houses of Congress, relative to 

a French Privateer . . . ."155 

5. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmit- 
ting Despatches from France . . .156 

19. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmit- 
ting Despatches from France . . . 156 

3. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmitting 

Despatches from France .... 158 

21. Message to both Houses of Congress, on the state 


17. Message to the Senate, transmitting a Letter 

FROM George "Washington . . . .159 

8. Message to the House of Representatives, re- 
specting certain acts of British Naval Offi- 
cers ....... 159 

Circular to the Commanders of Armed Vessels 
OP the U. States, 29 December, 1798, (inclosed) . 160 

28. Message to both Houses of Congress, transmit- 
ting A French Decree, respecting neutral 
sailors ...... 161 

15. Message to the House of Representatives, re- 
specting the suspension of a French Decree . 161 

18. Message to the Senate, nominating an Envoy to 

France . . • . . .161 





25. IVIessage to the Senate, nominatdjg three Envoys 

TO Fkance ...... 162 

December 19. Message to both Houses op Congress, announcing 

the Decease of George Washington . . 163 


January G. IMessage to both Houses of Congress, transmit- 
ting A Letter of Martha Washington . .164 

14. IMessage to the House of Representatives, trans- 
mitting A Letter of John Eandolph, Jr. _ . 165 



21. Message to the Senate, transmitting a Report of 

the Secretary of State .... 166 

2. ]Message to the Senate, on the Convention with 

France ...... 167 








25. Proclamation for an extraordinary Session of 

Congress ...... 168 

23. Proclamation for a National Fast 

. 169 

13. Proclamation revoking the Exequaturs of the 

French Consuls . . . . .170 

6. Proclamation for a National Fast . 


12. Proclamation concerning the Ls^surrection in 

Pennsylvania . . . . ,174 

26. Proclamation, opening the Trade with certain 

Ports OF St. DoMENGO . . . .176 

9. Proclamation, opening the Trade with other 

Ports of St. Domingo . . . .177 

21. Proclamation, granting Pardon to the Pennsyl- 
vania Insurgents . . r . . . 1 78 



23. To the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 180 

To the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the 
City of Philadelphia .... 182 


1798. PAGE 

April 26, To the Citizens op Philadelphia, the District op 


30. To THE Inhabitants op Providence, Khode Island 184 

May 1. To the Inhabitants of Bridgeton, in the County 

OP Cumberland, in the State of New Jersey . 185 

2. To THE Citizens op Baltimore, and Baltimore 

County, Maryland ..... 186 

7. To the Young Men of the City of Philadelphia, 
the district of southwark, and the northern 
Liberties, Pennsylvania .... 187 

7. To THE Inhabitants and Citizens op Boston, Mas- 

sachusetts ...... 189 

8. To the Inhabitants op the County of Lancaster, 

Pennsylvania . . . . .190 

8. To the Inhabitants of the County of Burlington, 

New Jersey ...... 191 

10. To the Inhabitants of the town op Hartford, 

Connecticut ...... 192 

12. To the Inhabitants op the Borough of IIarris- 

burgh, Pennsylvania . . . .193 

22. To the Young Men of Boston, Massachusetts . 194 

28. To the Grand Jury for the County of Plymouth, 

Massachusetts . . . ... 195 

31. To THE Soldier Citizens of New Jersey . .196 

June 2. To the Inhabitants of the town op Braintree, 

Massachusetts . . . . .197 

To THE Young ]\Ien op the City of New York .197 

To the Inhabitants of Quincy, Massachusetts .199 

2. To the Inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, 

Massachusetts ..... 200 

15. To the Legislature of Massachusetts . . 200 

25. To the Inhabitants of Arlington and Sandgate, 

Vermont ...... 202 

29. To the Legislature op New Hampshire . . 203 

To THE Students of Dickinson College, Pennsyl- 
vania ....... 204 

To the Students of New Jersey College . . 205 



1 798. PAGE 

To THE Governor and the Legislature op Con- 
necticut . . . . . .207 

To the Cincinnati of Rhode Island . . . 208 

July 14. To THE Inhabitants of Dedham and other Towns 

IN the County of Norfolk, IVIassachusetts . 209 

To THE Inhabitants of Concord, Massachusetts . 210 

To THE Students of Harvard University, in Mas- 
sachusetts . . . . . .211 

To THE Freemasons of the State of Maryland . 212 

To the Inhabitants of Washington County, Mary- 
land ....... 213 

To the Inhabitants op the County op Middlesex, 
Virginia ...... 214 

To the Committee of the Militia of Botetourt, 
Virginia . . . . . .215 

August 11. To THE Inhabitants of Cincinnati and its Vicinity 215 

13. To THE Inhabitants of Harrison County, Virginia 216 

To THE Young Men of Richmond, Virginia . .217 

To THE Inhabitants op Accomac County, Virginia 218 

31. To THE Senate and Assembly of the State op New 

York ....... 219 

September 7, To the Boston Marine Society, Massachusetts . 220 

15. To the Cincinnati op South Carolina . . 222 

22. To THE Grand Jury of Dutchess County, New 

York ... ... 223 

26. To THE Grand Jury op Ulster County, New York 224 

To THE Inhabitants op the Town op Newbern, 
North Carolina ..... 225 

26. To THE Sixth Brigade of the Third Division op 

North Carolina ]\Iilitia .... 226 

October 3. To the Grand Jurors op Hampshire County, ]Mas- 

SACHUSETTS ...... 227 

5. To THE Inhabitants of Machias, District ofIVIaine 227 

11. To the Officers op the First Brigade, Third Divi- 
sion OP Massachusetts Militia . . . 228 
VOL. IX. b 









19. To THE Militia and Inhabitants of Guilford 

County, North Carolina .... 229 

31. To the Officers of the Third Division of Georgia 

Militia ....... 230 

3. To the Grand Jury of Morris County in New 

Jersey . . . . . . .231 

8. To the Citizens, Inhabitants of the Mississippi 

Territory . . . . . .232 

5. To the Inhabitants of the City of Washington . 233 

11. To the Citizens of Alexandria . . . 233 

1. To THE Corporation of New London, Connecticut 234 

15. To THE Inhabitants of the County of Edgecombe, 

North Carolina ..... 235 

26. To the Senate and House of Representatives of 

Massachusetts ..... 236 


Preliminary Note 

To the Printers of the Boston Patriot 

. 239 
. 241 

The inadmissible Principles of the King of Eng- 
land's Proclamation of October 16, 1807, con- 
sidered . . . . . .312 




9. To Catharine IMacaulay 

December 1 7. To James Warren 
22. To James Warren 


9. To James Warren . 
14. To William Woodfall 
25. To James Warren 
23. To John Tudor . 

. 331 

. 333 
. 334 

. 336 
. 337 
. 338 
. 340 






25. Joseph Hawley to John Adams . . . 342 


29. To William Tudor 

. 346 


12. To Edward Biddle 

. 348 

28. To James Burgh . 

. 350 



3. To James Warren 

. 352 


15. To James Warren 

. 354 


10. To Moses Gill 

. 356 

18. To Elbridge Gerry 

. 357 

To George Washington 

. 359 


29. To Josiah Quincy 

. 360 


5. To Elbridge Gerry 

. 362 

14. Joseph Hawley to John Adams 

. 364 

23. To James Otis .... 

. 365 

25. To Joseph Hawley 

. 366 

25. To Mrs. Mercy Warren 

. 368 



6. To George Washington 

. 370 

15. Samuel Adams to John Adams 

. 371 


29. To James Otis 

. 374 


18. R. H. Lee to John Adams 

. 374 

26. To James Sullivan 

. 375 

29. To Benjamin Highborn 

. 378 

30. To Samuel Cooper 

. 381 


1. To Isaac Smith . 

. 382 

2. To Henry Knox . 

. 384 

3. To Patrick Henry 

. 386 

4. To Hugh Hughes 

. 388 

4. To Richard Henry Lee 

. 389 

9. To William Gushing 

. 390 

12. To John Lowell . 

. 392 

12. To Oakes Angier 

. 394 

12. To Francis Dana 

. 395 







To Samuel Chase 

. 396 


To James Warren 

. 398 


To Zabdiel Adams 

. 399 


To Benjamin Kent 

. 401 


To Nathanael Greene . 

. 402 


To Samuel H. Parsons . 

. 405 


To John Sullivan 

. 407 


To John Winthrop 

. 409 


To William Tudor 

. 411 


To Samuel Chase 

. 412 



To Archibald Bullock 

. 414 


To Samuel Chase 

. 415 


To Mrs. Adams 

. 417 


To Samuel Chase 

. 420 


To Joseph Ward . 



To Jonathan Mason 

. 422 


To J. D. Sergeant 

. 424 


To the Deputy Secretary of J 

^Iassachusetts . 426 


To James Warren 

. . . . 427 



To Francis Dana 

. 429 


To Samuel H. Parsons . 

. 431 


To Jonathan Mason 

. 432 


To Joseph Hawley 

. 433 


To William Tudor 

. 436 


' 4. 

To Samuel Cooper 

. 439 


To James Warren 

. . . . 440 


To Samuel Adams 

. 441 


Samuel Adams to John Adams 

. 441 


To Samuel Adams 

. 443 


Samuel Adams to John Adams 

. 446 




Samuel Adams to John Adams 

. 448 






3. To James Warren 

. 450 

12. To James Warren 

. 452 


18. To James Warren 

. 456 

21. To John Avery, Junior 

. 457 

22. To William Tudor 

. 459 


8. To William Gordon 

. 461 

27. To James Warren 

. 462 

29. To James Warren 

. 463 


6. To James Warren 

. 464 

16. Thomas Jefferson to John Adams . 

. 465 

26. To Thomas Jefferson . 

• • 

• 466 


1 7. B. Franklin to James Lovell 

• • 

. 468 


6. To Elbridge Gerry 

• • 

. 469 

24. To James Lovell 

• • 

. 471 



8. To Benjamin Kush 


. 472 


27. To James Lovell 

m m t 

. 473 


15. To Mrs. Warren 

• • t 

. 474 



20. To James Lovell 

• • 

. 476 

28. To Samuel Cooper 

• • 

. 478 


13. James Lovell to John Adams 

(confidential) . 

. 480 


10. To Elbridge Gerry 


. 483 

20. To Thomas McKean , 


. 484 

27. James Lovell to John Adams 

(confidential) . 

. 486 

28. James Lovell to John Adams 

(confidential) . 

. 489 

29. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams 

. 491 


4. Henry Laurens to John Adams 

. 496 

17. To James Lovell 

. 499 

25. To James Lovell 

. 501 

25. To Henry Laurens 

. 503 


4. To Elbridge Gerry 

. 505 

4. To Benjamin Rush 

. 507 






























































September 3. 

To Edmund Jenings 
To Jonathan Jackson 

To James Wakren 
To James Warren 
To Jonathan Jackson 

To Arthur Lee 

Samuel Adams to John Adams 

Elbridge Gerry to John Adams 

To A. M. Cerisier 

To Charles Spener 

To James Warren 

To Francis Dana 

To Mrs. Warren 

The Abbe de Mably to John Adams 

To Benjamin Waterhouse 

To Samuel Adams 

To John Jebb 

To Arthur Lee . 

To John Jebb 

To John Jebb 

E.. H. Lee to John Adams 

To Count Sarsfield 
Samuel Adams to John Adams 
To Cotton Tufts 
To Cotton Tufts 

To Benjamin Highborn 

To Philip Mazzei 

K. H. Lee to John Adams 


. 509 
. 510 

. 511 
. 513 

. 514 

. 517 
. 519 

. 521 
. 523 
. 524 
. 526 
. 528 

. 529 
. 530 
. 532 
. 532 
. 536 
. 538 
. 543 
. 544 

. 646 

. 547 
. 548 
. 549 

. 550 
. 552 
. 553 

















3. Arthur Lee to John Adams 

2. To Benjamin Rush 

3. To Thomas Brand-Hc>llis 

20. To Richard Price 

18. To Henry Marchant 
30. To SiLVANUs Bourn 

1 7. To James Sullivan 
7. To Marston Watson 

19. To Richard Price 

18. To Benjamin Rush 
1. To Alexander Jardine 
1. To Thomas Brand-Hollis 

11. To Thomas Brand-Hollis 
13. To Thomas Welsh 

23. To John Trumbull 
10. To Hannah Adams 

6. To Joseph Ward 

3. To Henry Guest 

3. To Dr. Ogden 
28. To F. A. Vanderkemp 
30. To Elbridge Gerry 

11. Christopher Gadsden to John Adams 

23. To Samuel Dexter 

24. To Thomas Jefferson . 
31. To Benjamin Stoddert 

6. To THE Marquis de Lafayette 
16. To Christopher Gadsden 


. 554 

. 556 , 
. 557 

. 558 
. 559 
. 561 
. 562 
. 562 

. 563 
. 565 
. 667 
. 568 
. 569 
. 571 

. 572 
. 574 

. 574 

. 575 

. 576 
. 576 

. 577 

. 578 
. 580 
. 581 
. 582 
. 583 
. 584 







26. To Samuel A. Otis 

• • • 

. 585 


30. To Thomas Truxtun 


. 586 


20. To Joshua Thomas, James Thacher, axd 




. 587 



3. To F. A. Yanderkemp 

• • • 

. 588 



5. To F. A. Vanderkemp 

• • • 

. 589 



1. To Benjabiin Rush 

• • • 

. 591 

11. To William Heath 

• • , • 

. 594 

21. To Benjamin Rush 

• • • 

. 596 


23. To Benjamust Rush 

• • • 

. 599 



3. To Benjamin Rush 

• • ■ 

. 600 

27. To Benjamin Rush 

. ' • 

. 602 


26. To J. B. Varnum 

• • • 

. 604 



16. F. A. Yanderkemp 

• • 

. 608 


11. To Skelton Jones 

• • • 

. 610 

13. To Daniel Wright and 

Erastus Lyman 

. 613 


12. To Benjamin Rush 

. • 

. 616 

20. To Joseph Lyman 


. 619 


19. To Samuel Perley 

• • • 

. 621 


15. To F. A. Vanderkemp 

• • • 

. 624 




21. To Benjamin Rush 

• • * 

. 626 




29. To David Sew all 

• • * 

. 627 


9. To JosiAH QumcY 

• • • 

. 629 


• • * 

. 633 


28. To Benjamin Rush 

• • • 

. 635 


A. Broken Hints, to be communicated to the Committee of Con- 
gress FOR THE Massachusetts, by Joseph Hawley . 6 i i 










Quincy, 23 July, 1799. 
Sir, — Inclosed is a letter from Mr. Thaxter, relative to the 
light-house on Gay Head. I shall soon send you a drawing, if 
not a model, of an economical improvement of these lights, of 
Mr. Cunnington, which appears to me, but I may be mistaken, 
of greater importance than the great question, who shall be the 
keeper of one of them. 


PhiladelpHa, 24 July, 1799. 

Sir, — There is in the Aurora of this city an uninterrupted 
stream of slander on the American government. I inclose the 
paper of this morning. It is not the first time that the editor 
has suggested, that you had asserted the influence of the British 
government in affairs of our own, and insinuated that it was 
obtained by bribery. The general readers of the Am-ora will 
believe both. I shall give the paper to Mr. Rawle, and, if he 
thinks it libellous, desire him to prosecute the editor. 

I do not know a member concerned in the administration of 
the aftairs of the United States, who would not indignantly 
spurn at the idea of British influence ; and as to bribes, they 
would disdain to attempt a vindication from the charge. 

The article in the paper, marked 5, of an acknowledgment in 
my writings, that in case of a war with Great Britain, a foreign 
war is not the only one to be dreaded, probably refers to my 


letter of 12th September, 1795, to Mr. Monroe, in which, vindi- 
cating our state of neutrality and the British treaty, and exhibit- 
ing the evils to flow from a war with Great Britain, I say that 
in that case " it would be happy for us if we could contemplate 
only a foreign war, in which all hearts and hands might be 

The editor of the Aui'ora, William Duane, pretends that he is 
an Ainerican citizen.^ saying that he was born in Vermont, but 
was, when a child, taken back with his parents to Ireland, where 
he was educated. But I understand the facts to be, that he 
went from America prior to our revolution, remained in the 
British dominions till after the peace, went to the British East 
Indies, ^vhere he committed or was charged with some crime, 
and returned to Great Britain, from whence, within three or 
four years past, he came to this country to stir up sedition and 
work other mischief. I presume, therefore, that he is really a 
British subject, and, as an alien, liable to be banished from the 
United States. He has lately set himself up to be the captain 
of a company of volunteers, whose distinguishing badges-are a 
plume of cock-neck feathers and a small black cockade with a 
large eagle. He is doubtless a United Irishman, and the com- 
pany is probably formed to oppose the authority of the govern- 
ment; and in case of war and invasion by the French, to join 

I am, with great respect, &c. 

Timothy Pickering. 


Quincy, 27 July, 1799. 

Sir, — I have received your letter of the 20th, and have no 
objection to the plan you propose of raising a company of 
cavalry. " Our means ! " ^ I never think of our means without 
shuddering. All the declamations, as well as demonstrations, 
of Trenchard and Gordon, Bolingbroke, Barnard and Walpole, 

1 Mr. McHenry, speaking in his letter of the delay to raise six additional 
companies of cavalry, says ; 

"I have been influenced, also, to this delay by a desire to husband our means, 
and guard against interrupting recruiting for the infantry." 

In reality he had been stirred to act by a letter from Mr. Hamilton, shaping 
the policy suggested. Hamilton's WoHs, vol. v. pp. 275, 27G. 


Hume, Burgh and Burke, rush upon my memory and frighten 
me out of my wits. The system of debts and taxes is levelling 
all governments in Europe, We have a career to run, to be 
sure, and some time to pass before we arrive at the European 
crisis ; but we must ultimately go the same way. There is no 
practicable or imaginable expedient to escape it, that I can 


Quincy, 1 August, 1799. 

I have received your favor of the 24th of July, inclosing an 
Aiirora of July 24th, imbued with rather more impudence than 
is common to that paper. Is there any thing evil in the regions 
of actuality or possibility, that the Aurora has not suggested of 
me ? You may depend upon it, I disdain to attempt a vindi- 
cation of myself against any of the lies of the Aurora, as much 
as any man concerned in the administration of the affairs of the 
United States. If IVIi'. Rawle does not think this paper libel- 
lous, he is not fit for his office ; and if he does not prosecute it, 
he will not do his duty. 

The matchless effrontery of this Duane merits the execution 

of the alien law. I am very willing to try its strength upon 


John Adams. 



Philadelphia, 1 August, 1799. 

Sir, — The day before yesterday I received from Mr, Charles 
Hall, of Northumberland county, in this State, a letter concern- 
ing a publication by Thomas Cooper, an Englishman, and a 
connection of Dr. Priestley, addressed to the readers of the Sun- 
bury and Northumberland Gazette, on the 29th of June.' This 

1 This publication is found, together with all the proceedings in the trial to 
■which it gave rise, in Wharton's State Trials during the Administrations of 
Washington and Adams, a work of great value to the history of that period. 


address has been republished in the Aurora of July 12th, which 
I now inclose. 

By Mr. Hall's information, Cooper was a barrister in England, 
and, like Dr. Priestley, a chemist, and a warm opposition man. 
Dr. Priestley was at the democratic assembly on the 4th of July, 
at Northumberland. But what is of most consequence, and 
demonstrates the Doctor's want of decency, being an alien, his 
discontented and turbulent spirit, that will never be quiet under 
the freest government on earth, is " his industry in getting Mr. 
Cooper's address printed in handbills, and distributed." " This," 
Mr. Hall adds, " is a circumstance capable of the fullest proof." 
Cooper has taken care to get himself admitted to citizenship. 
I am sorry for it ; for those who are desirous of maintaining our 
internal tranquillity must wish them both removed from the 
United States. 

It is near a year since you authorized the expulsion of General 
Collot and one Schweitzer. Colonel Mentges, who was engaged 
(while I was at Trenton) in getting information of Schweitzer's 
names and conduct, kept me long in suspense until at length he 
informed me that General Serrurier was in the country in dis- 
guise. I then thought it best not to give an alarm to him by 
arresting the other two. But after months of suspense, while 
inquuy was making, I was satisfied the information concerning 
Serrurier was groundless. Then so many months had elapsed, 
and the session of Congress commenced, when other business 
pressed, the pursuit of these aliens was overlooked. Colonel 
Mentges now informs me that Schweitzer is about to embark 
for Hamburgh ; but Collot remains, and is deemed as much as 
ever disposed to do all the mischief in his power. He remains 
a prisoner of war to the British ; and it would seem desirable to 
compel him to place himself under their jurisdiction, where he 
could do no harm. 

M. Letombe not only exercises those services, which, on the 
withdrawing of his exequatur, he requested permission to render 
to his fellow-citizens in this country, but assumes and uses the 
title of Consul- General of the French Republic, just as he did 
formerly. He held the purse-strings of the republic in this 
country, and paid the bribes ordered by the French Minister 
Adet ; the minister being gone, he is probably vested with pow- 
ers adequate to the object. With much softness of manners, he 


is capable of submitting to, and doing, any thing corruptly which 
his government should direct. 

The reiterated observations, that the alien law remains a dead 
letter, have induced me in this manner to bring the subject 
under your notice ; and, waiting the expression of your will, I 
remain, most respectfully, yours, &c. 

Timothy Pickering. 

P. S. A prosecution against Duane, editor of the Aurora, 
has been instituted, on the charge of English secret-service 
money distributed in the United States ; and I have desired JNIr. 
Rawle to examine his newspaper and to institute new prosecu- 
tions as often as he offends. This, I hope, will meet with your 


Quincy, 3 August, 1799. 

Sir, — I have received a long letter from Mr. Gerry of the 
24th of July, with papers inclosed, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, 
besides another paper of extracts of letters. I inclose extracts 
of his letter, together with all the numbers, and his paper of 
extracts. These numbers and last extracts I pray you to return 
to me, when you have made all the uses of them you wish. 

These papers, I think, will convince you as they have me, 
of three points. 

1. That Mr. Gerry's stay in France, after the receipt of your 
letter by Mr. Humphreys, and especially after the publication 
of the despatches, was not gratuitous, but of indispensable and 
unavoidable necessity under the paws of arbitrary power, and 
therefore that his salary ought to be allowed him according to 
his account. 

2. That Mr. Gerry ought not to be charged with the ships' 
stores, or any part of them. I am ashamed to make any 
remarks on this head, and shall not do it unless driven to the 
necessity of it. If the necessities of our country require that 
we should order our ambassadors to take passages in small 
vessels, with all the sea captains and mariners that can be col- 
lected, I think a generous provision of articles in case of sickness 
and putrid fevers ought not to be charged to the ambassador. 


3. That the guilders ought not to be charged at forty cents. 
This point, however, I may mistake. I should be obliged to 
you for information. I wish right may be done according to 
law at the time the debt was contracted. Upon the whole, it 
is my opinion that Mr. Gerry's account, as stated by himself, 
ought to be allowed.! 

I am. Sir, with all due respect, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 4 August, 1799. 

Sir, — The inclosed protest and certificates I received last 
night, with the letter from Captain Ebenezer Giles, late com' 
mander of the schooner Betsey. This gentleman made me a 
visit some weeks ago, to complain to me in person of the horrid 
treatment he received from the commander of the ship Daphne, 
a British vessel of war. He has now sent me the papers, and 
expects that government will espouse his cause. I think the 
papers should be communicated to Mr. Liston, and sent to Mr. 
King.2 There is a very sour leaven of malevolence in many 
English and in many American minds against each other, which 
has given and will continue to give trouble to both govern- 
ments ; but by patience and perseverance I hope we shall suc- 
ceed in wearing it out, and in bringing the people on both sides 
to treat each other like friends. 


Quincy, 5 August, 1799. 
Your two letters of the 29th, and one of the 30th July, are 
before me. I know not who are meant by G. and C. in Cap- 

1 Mr. Adams's interference was necessary to check the petty vexations to 
which Mr. Pickering's hostility was subjecting Mr. Gerry. It was not, however, 
effective until Mr. Marshall came into office. Austin's Life of Gerry, vol. ii. 
p. 277, note. 

2 Mr. Pickering replied on the 16th by transmitting a letter, written by him 
to the complainant, in which he quoted Captain Truxtun's statement of the 
transaction to prove that Captain Giles deserved the beating he got on board 
of the English frigate. He therefore declined making any apjilication to Mr. 


tain Perry's letter ; but I think there ought to be some inquiry 
into the justice of his insinuations. I fear that the officers and 
crew of the General Greene were too long on shore at the Ha- 
vana, and there caught the infection which has obliged him to 
leave his station and bury so many. The news, however, of 
the politeness and friendship of the governor and admiral is not 
the less pleasing. I return you Captain Perry's letter. Although 
I am very solicitous to strike some strokes in Europe for the 
reasons detailed in your letter proposing the expedition, yet I 
feel the whole force of the importance of deciding all things in 
the West Indies, if possible, and therefore shall consent to the 
alteration you propose, if you continue to think it necessary. 

There is one alteration in our policy, which appears to me 
indispensable. Instead of sending the prisoners we take, back 
into Guadaloupe, there to embark again in the first privateer, 
we must send them all to the United States, or allow them to 
work and fight on board our ships. At least, if any are returned, 
their written parole ought to be taken, that they will not serve 
until exchanged. One suggestion more. I like your plan of 
employing all om* great frigates on separate stations. I have 
more ideas in my head on this subject than I am willing to 
commit to wnriting. One idea more. I think we must have 
Bermuda sloops, Virginia pilot boats, or Marblehead schooners, 
or whaleboats, in one word, some very light small fast-sailing 
vessels, furnished with oars as well as sails, to attend our fri- 
gates, and pursue the French pirates in among their own rocks 
and shoals to their utter destruction. Talbot's unwarrantable 
suspicion of your want of confidence in him shall never be any 
disadvantage to you. Indeed, I believe I ought not to have 
let you see that anxious expression of a brave man. I know 
his opinion of you to be very high as a man of talents and 


Qiiincy, 5 August, 1799, 

I have received your favor of July 80th, inclosing Mr. King's 
letter of 5th June, which I return. There is not a question in 


mathematics or physics, not the square of the circle or the uni- 
versal menstruum, which gives me less solicitude or inquietude 
than the negotiations with Russia and the Porte. Mr. King's 
official assurances induced me to nominate the missions, and if 
there has been any thing hasty in the business, it was Mr. King's 
haste. I know that both Russia and the Porte have as much 
interest in the connections proposed, as we have, and that the 
stiff and stately formalities about it are exactly such as France 
has practised upon us these twenty years. The object is to 
assume the air of granting favors, when they receive them, and 
to make the American government and people believe they are 
not yet independent and can do nothing of themselves. If 
we are retarded at all, it will be owing to the artifices of inter- 
meddlers, and instead of having one farthing of money the less 
to pay, I know it will cost us more. 


Quincy, 6 August, 1799. 

Sir, — I received late last evening your favor of the 31st of 
July, inclosing a triplicate of Mr. Murray's letter of the 17th of 
May, and a copy, certified by Mr. Murray, on the 18th of May, 
of a letter of Charles Maurice Talleyrand, dated Paris, le 23° 
Floreal de I'an 7 de la Republique Fran§aise une et indivisible. 

Sovereign to sovereign, and minister to minister, is a maxim 
in the cabinets of Europe, and although neither the President 
of the United States, nor the executive Directory, are sovereigns 
in their countries, the same relations exist between them and 
their ministers, and, therefore, the reason of the maxim is appli- 
cable to them. It is far below the dignity of the President of 
the United States to take any notice of Talleyrand's impertinent 
regrets, and insinuations of superfluities.^ You or Mr. Murray 

1 In transmitting these papers, Mr. Pickering had remarked ; — 
" The answer, I observe, does not exactly conform to the terms used in the 
instructions to M. Murray, and which he repeated in his letter of May 5th to 
the minister. But Mr. Talleyrand does not forget the common practice of his 
government, to drop a reproach or insult while making amicable professions. It 
was certainly not necessary for him to insinuate that the President of the United 
States was wasting many montlis of precious time for ' the simple confii-mation,' 
that if new envoys were sent they would be received." 


may answer them as you please in your correspondence with 
one another, or with the French minister. 1 will say to you, 
however, that I consider this letter as the most authentic intel- 
ligence yet received in America of the successes of the coalition. 
That the design is insidious and hostile at heart, I Avill not say.i 
Time will tell the truth. Meantime, I dread no longer their 
diplomatic skill. I have seen it, and felt it, and been the victim 
of it these twenty-one years. But the charm is dissolved. Their 
magic is at an end in America. Still, they shall find, as long as 
I am in office, candor, integrity, and, as far as there can be any 
confidence or safety, a pacific and friendly disposition. If the 
spirit of exterminating vengeance ever arises, it shall be conjured 
up by them, not me. In this spirit I shall pursue the nego- 
tiation, and I expect 2 the cooperation of the heads of depart- 
ments. Our operations and preparations by sea and land are 
not to be relaxed in the smallest degree. On the contrary, I 
wish them to be animated with fresh energy. St. Domingo and 
the Isle of France, and all other parts of the French dominions, 
are to be treated in the same manner as if no negotiation was 
going on. These preliminaries recollected, I pray you to Jose 
no time in conveying to Governor Davie his commission, and 
to the Chief Justice and his Excellency, copies of these letters 
from Mr. Murray and Talleyrand, with a request that, laying 
aside all other employments, they make immediate preparations 
for embarking. Whether together or asunder, from a northern, 
a southern, or a middle port, I leave to them. I am willing 
to send Truxtun, or Barry, or Talbot, with them ; consult the 
Secretary of the Navy and heads of department on this point. 
Although I have little confidence in the issue of this business, I 
wish to delay nothing, to omit nothing. 

The principal points, indeed, all the points of the negotiation, 
were so minutely considered and approved by me and all the 
heads of department, before I left Philadelphia, that nothing 
remains but to put them into form and dress. This service I 
pray you to perform as promptly as possible. Lay your draught 
before the heads of department, receive their corrections, if 

* So in the copy-book. IVlr. Gibbs in his work has the word deny, and prints 
the sentence in small capitals. Memoirs of the Fed. Adm. vol. ii. p. 250. 
• - Printed, request, by ]Mr. Gibbs. There are other variations of less conse- 


they shall judge any to be necessary, and send them to me as 
soon as possible. My opinions and determinations on these 
subjects are so well made up, at least to my own satisfaction, 
that not many hours will be necessary for me to give you my 
ultimate sentiments concerning the matter or form of the in- 
structions to be given to the envoys.^ 

I have the honor, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 8 August, 1799. 

Sir, — I received last night your favor of the 2d of this 
month. I am sincerely sorry for the resignation of Captain 
Truxtun. Although you have not explained to me his motives, 
I presume the decision, which gave rise to them, was founded 
in principles of sound policy and eternal justice, as it was made 
upon honor and with conscientious deliberation. If it were no\v 
to be made, it would be the same, though my son or my father 
were in the place of Captain Truxtun. I have no more to say. 
If we lose Captain Truxtun 2, we shall soon regain Captain 
Dale. Meantime I am very desirous that Captain Decatur 
should take the Constellation. If, however, he prefers the mer- 
chants' frigate, as you call her, I will not urge him from his 
bias. Of Captain Barron I know very little, but repose myself 
with great confidence upon your judgment. I now request of 
you that Barry and Talbot may be separated. I have reasons 
for this, which it is unnecessary to detail. Not from any mis- 
understanding or dislike between them that I know of or 
suspect, but it is best the great frigates should have separate 
stations. . 5 

1 This letter is remarkable as containing a summary of the President's policy 
on tliis point, so sharply contested by his three cabinet officers ; a policy from 
which the result will show him not to haA'e varied in any essential particular 
from beginning to end. 

'■^ Captain Truxtun did not resign. He served throughout the period of this 
administi'ation, and was edged out rather than resigned, in 1802. A brief notice 
of his lite is given in Mr. Cooper's History of (he Navy, vol. i. p. 354, note. A 
characteristic letter upon the causes of his quitting the service is found in 
Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. pp. 533-535. 




Quincy, 13 August, 1799. 

And now, Sir, what shall I say to you on the subject of "libels 
and satires? Lawless things, indeed!" I have received your 
private letter of the 1st of this month,^ and considered the sub- 
ject of it as fully as the pressure of other business of more 
importance would allow me time to do. Of Priestley and 
Cooper I will say no more at present than to relate to you two 

Anecdote first. Dr. Priestley's old friend, and my old acquaint- 
ance, Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, the celebrated M. P., soon after 
his arrival in Boston, came up to Quincy with his lady on a 
visit to us, who had visited his family in London. I was absent. 
They dined with Mrs. Adams, and in the course of conversation 
Mr. Vaughan told her that Mr. Cooper was a rash man, and 
had led Dr. Priestley into all his errors in England, and he feared 
would lead him into others in America. 

Anecdote the second. At the time when we were inquiring 
for an agent to conduct the affairs of the United States before 
the commissioners at Philadelphia, Mr. Cooper wrote to me a 
solicitation for that appointment, and Dr. Priestley wrote me a 
letter, strongly recommending him. Both made apologies for 
his reputation as a democrat, and gave intimation of a reforma- 
tion. I wondered that either could think it possible that the 
people of the United States could be satisfied or contented to 
intrust interests of such magnitude to an Englishman, or any 
other foreigner. I wondered that either should think it com- 
patible with my duty, to prefer a stranger to the great number 
of able natives, who wished for this trust. But so it was. As 
it has been, from the beginning, a rule not to answer letters of 
solicitation or recommendation for offices, I never answered 
either. Mr. Read was appointed, and the disappointed candi- 
date is now, it seems, indulging his revenge. A meaner, a more 
artful, or a more malicious libel has not appeared. As far as it 
alludes to me, I despise it ; but I have no doubt it is a libel 
against the whole government, and as such ought to be prose- 

1 See page 5. 
VOL. IX. 2 


cuted.i I do not think it wise to execute the alien law against 
poor Priestley at present. He is as weak as water, as unstable 
as Reuben, or the wind. His influence is not an atom in the 

Having long possessed evidence the most satisfactory to my 
mind, that Collot is a pernicious and malicious intriguer, I have 
been always ready and willing to execute the alien law upon 
him. We are now about to enter on a negotiation with France, 
but this is no objection against expelling from this country such 
an alien as he is. On the contrary, it is more necessary to 
remove such an instrument of mischief from among our people, 
for his whole time will be employed in exciting corrupt divisions, 
whether he can succeed or not. As to Letombe, if you can 
prove "that he paid the bribes ordered by the French Minister, 
Adet," or any thing like it, he ought to be sent away too. But 
perhaps it would be better to signify that it is expected that he 
go, than to order him out at first by proclamation. There is a 
respect due to public commissions, which I should wish to pre- 
serve as far as may be consistent with safety. 

The alien law, I fear, will upon trial be found inadequate to 
the object intended, but I am willing to try it in the case of 

1 A curious and intei'csting account of the personal history of Thomas Cooper, 
inchiding the two letters here mentioned, is given in the notes to Wharton's 
State Trials, Sj-c, -pix 659-681. There can be no doubt that tliis prosecution 
was a mistake. The fact of his having been a disappointed applicant for office 
would have been a far more effective instrument to rely upon, in order to 
neutralize his influence. 

2 It is worthy of remark that this letter contains the closest approximation 
to any expression of opinion upon the alien and sedition laws, to be found in 
the whole of Mr. Adams's correspondence during his administration. He was 
in fact regarded by Mr. Hamilton and the ultra members of the federal party 
as lukewarm, if not unfriendly to them. Yet the entire responsibility for the 
measures has been made to fall upon him ! General Washington's opinions, as 
expressed, were much more decided. See the letters to Spotswood and to 
Washington, in Sparks's Washington, vol. xi. pp. 345, 387. There are other 
letters still unpubhshed to the same effect. General Hamilton thought the laws 
required amendment, as not effective enough. Hamilton's Works, Hamilton to 
Dayton, vol. vi. pp. 388 - 389. 



Quincy, 14 August, 1799. 

Inclosed are four petitions for mercy. One from Conrad 
Marks, Frederick Heyney, Anthony Stabler, John Getman, 
Valentine Kuder, Jacob Kline, David Schaffer, and Philip Desh ; 
another from George Schaffer, Daniel Schwarts, Henry Stahler, 
Christian Rhodes, and Henry Schaffer; a third from Jacob 
Eyerman and John Everhart ; and a fourth from John Fries ; all 
supported by numerous petitioners in their behalf. 

I wish Dr. Priestley could see these petitions, and be asked 
to consider whether it would be a pleasant thing to have an 
equal number of his neighbors in Northumberland brought by 
his exertions and example into a situation equally humble. I 
pray you to communicate these petitions to the heads of de- 
partment, and especially to the Attorney-General. I wish all to 
consider whether it is proper that any answer should be given, 
by me or my order, to any of them. I think it may be said that 
these people are brought to humble themselves " in dust and 
ashes before their offended country." That repentance, how- 
ever, which, in the sight of an all penetrating heaven, may be 
sufficiently sincere to obtain the pardon of sins, cannot always 
be sufficiently certain in the eyes of mortals to justify the par- 
don of crimes. 


Quincy, 16 August, 1799. 

I have received your favor of the 10th. Mr. Shaw discovered 
his omission of numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the paper of ex- 
tracts, and sent them on the next day. I hope you received 
them in course. I have read the address to the independent 
electors of Pennsylvania, and am very curious to know where 
all this will end.i The trial will bring out some whimsical 

1 Mr. Pickering in his letter wrote : " The address to the electors of Penn- 
sylvania is unquestionably the production of Tench Coxe, late commissioner of 
the revenue, and until May 8th, 1 792, assistant to the Secretary of the treasury." 

Mr. Coxe had been removed from office, upon a report made on his case by 
the Cabinet officers. 


things.^ At present I will say nothing. I have no apprehen- 
sion for myself or the public from the consequences. 


Quincy, 23 August, 1799. 

My thoughts and feelings are exactly in unison with yours, 
expressed in your favor of the 17th.2 I would propose that our 
envoys be landed at Lisbon, and take an overland journey to 
Paris, through Madrid. This will give them an opportunity of 
gaining much information, useful to their country. In this case 
the frigate may take Mr. Smith and carry him to Constantinople, 
or the envoys may be landed at Bilbao or Bessarabia. The 
frigate in either case may cruise, and take up the envoys on 
their return at Lisbon or Bilbao, or we can send another vessel 
for them to any place. It will be total ruin to any of our 
frigates to lie in French harbors all winter. I hope our envoys 
will not be long in negotiation. Their instructions will be 
precise, and they may be as categorical as they please. 


Quincy, 24 August, 1799. 

Sir, — I have received your favor of the 16th, and read the 
letter of Mr. B. H. Phillips, our consul at Curasao, of 20th 
July, and the papers inclosed with it, which I now return. It 
is right to communicate these documents to Mr. Van Polanen 
and to JVIr, MuiTay, and to remonstrate in clear language to the 
Batavian government against the partiality of the governor 

' Mr. Pickering bad mentioned that process had been instituted against Wil- 
liam Duano, for libel. 

2 Mr. Stoddcrt bad ]5roposed that the frigate United States should carry out 
the new ministers to France, and return without a detention of more than a 
fortnight. But he goes on to say ; — 

" Talking on this subject vnth some of the heads of department, I find that it 
is the expectation that the vessel which carries the ministers, will wait to bring 
them back, and for this purpose will wait till the spring to avoid a winter pas- 

In this A-iew of the subject I see many objections to employing the United 
States in this service." 


and council,^ and the scandalous conduct of the frigate. But 
still, I think we have something to do to teach our own Ame- 
rican seamen, and especially captains, more discretion. At 
such a time and in such a place, the sailors ought to have had 
more prudence than to have gone on Sunday or any other day 
into dance-houses with French sailors, and the captains ought 
to have known that it was their duty to apply to the govern- 
ment of the place to suppress riots, rather than go and join in 
them in person, though in order to suppress them. If any legal 
evidence can be produced to prove that the governor and coun- 
cil are more or less concerned in the privateers, it would be a 
ground of very serious representations to their superiors. 

I think it, and always thought it, unfortunate, that when the 
authority was given to interdict commerce with the French 
islands, it was not extended to others, especially Dutch. I men- 
tion these in particular, because the interested character and the 
humiliated condition in which they were known to be, should 
have suggested the necessity of the measure. The motives 
and reasons, however, for adding the Spaniards, Swedes, and 
Danes, were not much less. 

If an expedition to restore the Stadtholder is undertaken in 
concert with the King of Prussia, it may succeed ; if without 
him, it is more uncertain. I make no dependence on any such 
probable events.^ By the way, some weeks ago you gave me 
encouragement to expect a letter from our minister at Berlin, 
which you had received. In the multiplicity of business you 
have omitted it. I wish to see it as soon as possible. If at 
the future session Congress should authorize the suspension of 
commerce with Swedish and Danish islands as well as. Dutch, 
I should think it worth while to send a minister to those courts. 
But I will not promise it shall be Mr. Smith. In my opinion, 
he ought to go to Constantinople. 

^ In protecting French privateers. A Dutcli frigate had saluted one of these 
vessels coming into the harbor of Curacao, with an American schooner, the 
Kautihis, as a prize. 

2 j\Ir. Pickering had expressed the opinion that it would probably succeed. 
He thought Denmark and Sweden might in such case be disposed to exclude 
French privateers from their West India islands. He was in favor of sending a 
temporary minister to both these courts to favor that object, and he recom- 
mended Mr. Wiiham Smith, of South Carolina, then at Lisbon. 



Quincy, 29 August, 1799. 

Sir, — I received last night your favor of the 23d. I am very- 
glad to be informed that the instructions for the envoys will be 
prepared in a few days,i and that you have written to Mr. Davie. 
What think you of our envoys landing at Lisbon, and the fri- 
gate that carries them taking Mr. Smith to Constantinople, or 
cruising on the Spanish coast or in the Mediterranean ? I am 
not for delaying the negotiation with the Turks, or any other, 
measure, on account of the negotiation with France. In my 
opinion, the charm is broken. It has been broken from the 
moment the invasion of England was laid aside. That project, 
raised and supported with infinite artifice, kept up the terror 
and frenzy of the world ; but it is over, and can never be again 

, I had like to have said that the alarm of the yellow fever 
gives me more uneasiness than any other alarm. The dispute 
of the commissioners under the 6th article gives me much con- 
cern.2 I shall write you in a few days on that subject. My 
mind is made up thus far. The treaty, as far as it depends on 
me, shall be executed with candor and good faith. No unworthy 
artifice or chicanery shall be practised on my part, no, not 
though the consequence should be the payment of all the 
demands. We must, however, do our utmost to obtain an 
explanation that may shelter our country from injustice. 


Trenton, 29 August, 1799. 

Sir, — The officers are now all at this place, and not badly 
accommodated. Will you, Sir, pardon the liberty I take, not 
in my official but private character, in expressing a wish that it 
may not be inconvenient for you to join them here, before our 

1 Mr. Pickering had written, "two or three days, to submit to the considera- 
tion of the heads of department." 

2 This was the commission under Jay's treaty, sitting at Philadelphia, to 
examine the claims of British subjects, from which the American commissioners 
thought it their duty to withdraw. 


ministers depart for France ? It may happen that a knowledge 
of recent events in Europe may be acquired just before the 
sailing of the ministers, which would make some alteration in 
their instructions necessary ; and possibly these events might be 
of a nature to require the suspension for a time of the mission. 

I could urge both public considerations, and those which 
relate more immediately to yourself, to justify the wish I have 
ventured to express ; but I will only say, that I have the most 
perfect conviction that your presence here, before the departure 
of the ministers, would afford great satisfaction to the best 
disposed and best informed men in that part of the country 
with which I am best acquainted ; and I believe, to the great 
mass of good men all over the United States. 

I will only add that I write this letter without communication 
with any person ; that if I err, the error is all my own. In my 
motives I cannot be mistaken. 

I have the honor to be, &c. &c. 

Ben. Stoddert. 



Quincy, 4 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I have received your kind letter of the 29th of August, 
and I thank you for the friendly sentiments expressed in it, in 
your private character. 

You urge me to join you and the other public officers at 
Trenton, before our ministers depart for France, and this from 
considerations which relate more immediately to myself, as well 
as others of a public nature. 

For myself, I have neither hopes nor fears. But if I could see 
any public necessity or utility in my presence at Trenton, I 
would undertake the journey, however inconvenient to myself 
or my family. I would not, indeed, hesitate, if it were only to 
give any reasonable satisfaction to the " best disposed and best 
informed men." But you must be sensible that for me to spend 
two or three months at Trenton with unknown accommodations, 
cannot be very agreeable. Alone, and in private, I can put up 
with any thing ; but in my public station, you know I cannot. 
The terms of accommodation with France were so minutely 


considered and discussed by us all, before I took leave of you 
at Philadelphia, that I suppose there will be no difference of 
sentiments among us. The draught will soon be laid before 
you. If any considerable difference should unexpectedly arise 
between the heads of department, I will come at all events. 
Otherwise, I see no necessity for taking a step that will give 
more eclat to the business than I think it deserves. I have no 
reason nor motive to precipitate the departure of the envoys. 
If any information of recent events in Europe should arrive, 
which, in the opinion of the heads of department, or of the 
envoys themselves, would render any alteration in their instruc- 
tions necessary or expedient, I am perfectly willing that their 
departure should be suspended, until I can be informed of it, or 
until I can join you. I am well aware of the possibility of events 
which may render a suspension, for a time, of the mission, very 
proper.! France has always been a pendulum. The extremest 
vibration to the left has always been suddenly followed by the 
extremest vibration to the right. I fear, however, that the ex- 
tremest vibration has not yet been swung. 

Upon this subject I solicit your confidential communications 
by every post. As I have ever considered this manoeuvre of 
the French as the deepest and subtlest, which the genius of the 
Directory and their minister has ever invented for the division 
of our people, I am determined, if they ever succeed in it, the 
world shall be convinced that their success was owing either to 
want of capacity, or want of support, in 

John Adams. 

P. S. Though I have marked this letter private, you may use 
it at your discretion for the purposes intended. 

1 Out of this obviously just and natural view of possible contingencies, Mr. 
Hamilton and his friends in the cabinet endeavored to construct a charge against 
Mr. Adams, of misleading them as to his design that the mission should proceed. 
Nothing is more clear throughout this correspondence than the fixedness of the 
policy pursued by Mr. Adams, subject to modification only by circumstances 
which could not be foreseen. Mr. \Volcott was the authority for Mr. Hamilton's 
statement. His wishes evidently biased his judgment. Hamilton's Works, 
vol. vi. p. 471. 



Trenton, 9 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I have the honor to inclose the opinions of the Attor- 
ney-General and heads of departments on the petitions of John 
Fries and others, insurgents in Bucks and Northampton coun- 
ties in Pennsylvania, that no pardon should noio be granted, 
nor any answer given. 

I am revising the draught of instructions for the envoys to 
France, and making the alterations which have been agreed on. 
I expect to transmit them to you by to-morrow's mail ; and am, 
with great respect, &c. 

Timothy Pickering. 

C. lee, attorney-general, to T. PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE. 

Alexandria, 2 September, 1799. 

Sir, — On the 29th of last month I had the honor to receive 
your letter of the 26th, inclosing the President's of the 14th, and 
the several petitions for pardon in favor of John Fries and others, 
charged with high treason, and George SchafFer and others, 
convicted of misdemeanor, and Jacob Eyerman and John Evcr- 
hart, charged with misdemeanor, in the late insurrection in 
Northampton and other counties in Pennsylvania. 

The question proposed by the President aflecting the liberty 
and property of some individuals, and the lives of others, has 
received my particular attention and most mature deliberation. 
I understand it as meaning whether any of the suppliants should 
be pardoned ; for unless a pardon is granted in some of the 
cases, I am humbly of opinion no answer should be returned 
in any. 

The power of pardoning criminals is vested in the Chief 
Magistrate for the public good. In deciding upon a petition 
for pardon, it is to be considered whether it ^vill more conduce 
to the public good to deny or to grant it. To a benevolent and 
generous heart acts of mercy are so pleasing as often to over- 
power discretion, so that mercy to a few is cruelty to many. 


In the course of five years, two insurrections against the law- 
ful authority of the United States have happened in Pennsyl- 
vania. At a great public expense they have been each quelled. 
The first was more alarming, and was quelled at a much greater 
expense, than the last. The offenders in the first experienced 
the presidential clemency, and not a traitor suffered the punish- 
ment of the law. The offenders in the last, charged with treason, 
are yet all to be tried ; and in the late defence of Fries, I under- 
stand, the dangerous doctrine was avowed by his advocates, of 
whom the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was 
one, that to resist by force the execution of a general revenue 
law of the United States, with intent that it should never be 
executed in certain counties, amounted not to treason, but to a 
misdemeanor only. 

Pennsylvania, possessing very many good, is not without a 
considerable number of bad citizens, some of whom are ignorant, 
refractory, headstrong, and wicked. From these circumstances, 
I think an exemplary punishment of rebellious conduct is more 
necessary and will be more salutary in that State than in any 
other, and therefore that considerations of public policy require 
that the most criminal of the insurgents should be left to the 
due and impartial course of the law. 

If this be most proper in regard to those whose lives are in 
jeopardy, it certainly is most proper towards those who have 
been or shall be convicted of misdemeanors, and whose punish- 
ments do not or shall not exceed the measure of their crimes. 

In the treason cases, it is uncertain who, if any, will be con- 
victed ; but after judgment it will be then in season and also 
in the power of the President to discriminate, and to arrest the 
sword of justice, in regard to those who shall appear to have the 
best claim to his gracious and merciful interposition. 

The like opportunity will occur in relation to those who shall 
be hereafter convicted of misdemeanor. As to such as have 
been already sentenced, no special circumstances are stated 
which distinguish the cases, and as no sufficient cause appears 
for pardoning all of them, there is no ground for exempting any 
from the punishment which they have been ordered to suffer ; 
and consequently all should satisfy the sentences of the law. I 
believe Eyerman is a German priest, who but lately came into 
America, and instantly entered on the function of sowing sedi- 


tion, and preparing his followers for works of darkness, disobe- 
dience, and rebellion. He has not been tried, and there is no 
danger of his being punished beyond his deserts. 

Upon the whole, it is my mature opinion that the President 
should not return any answer to either of the petitions, and that 
no pardon should be granted under present circumstances to 
any of the petitioners. 

I am. Sir, very respectfully, &c. 

Charles Lee. 

Eyerman is a German priest, who has been in America about 
two years, and not only thus early a sower of sedition in the 
country where he has found an asylum, but of an infamous, 
immoral character. Such has been my information. 

Timothy Pickering. 

We entirely concur in the Attorney-General's opinion, that 

none of the petitioners should noiv be pardoned, nor any answer 

given them. 

Timothy Pickering. 

Oliver Wolcott. 

James Mc Henry. 

Ben. Stoddert. 

Trenton, 7 September, 1797. 



Trenton, 11 September, 1799. 

Sir, — The general alarm of the yellow fever in Philadelphia, 
occasioned the removal of the public offices to this place. This 
has caused some delay in finishing the draught of instructions 
for the envoys to the French republic, which I had the honor 
of transmitting you yesterday,' the draught having been pre- 
viously examined, altered, and amended, conformably to the 
opinions of the heads of department. I now inclose some 
papers relating to the subject, which want of time prevented 
my forwarding yesterday. 

1 Mr. Pickering's letter of tbe 10th, covering the instructions, is marked thus : 
" Reed. Sept. 14th, at night, by the hand of William Smith, Esq., from Boston." 
See the letter in answer, dated the 16th. 


Of the three leading points which were fixed before your 
departure from Philadelphia, we have ventured to propose a 
deviation in one only, that respecting the role d' equipage?- For, 
however clear in our own minds is the right of American citizens 
to a full indemnification for captures and condemnations for 
want of that document, after much deliberation, we thought, if 
France would submit that and other questions to a board im- 
partially constituted, as proposed in the draught, or in secret 
declarations or stipulations agree to the specific rules of adjudi- 
cations therein detailed, that the people of America might 
think the negotiation ought not to be frustrated, as it might be. 
by making such a concession an ultimatum. We thought, indeed, 
that the captures of our vessels, because their cargoes were pro- 
duced or fabricated in the British dominions, perfectly unjusti- 
fiable, and a case more unexceptionable, if made an ultimatum. 
But if France agrees to the rules of adjudication, or to the 
mode of constituting a board of commissioners, as now proposed, 
we conceived that the United States would be satisfied. 

I propose to send a copy of the draught of instructions to 
Mr. Ellsworth, and to invite his observations upon them, as it 
is important that he should be satisfied. And if want of time 
should prevent a second transmission of the instructions to you, 
(which, however, I think will not be the case,) may I take the 
liberty of proposing, if your judgment should not be definitively 
made up on particular points, that we may, if Mr. Ellsworth 
should desire it, and we all concur in opinion with him, make 
alterations in the draught ? Provided that none of the ultimata 
be varied, except that which prescribes the mode of organizing 
the board of commissioners. 

On the 26th ultimo T received the inclosed private letter from 
Mr. Murray, dated the 18th of June. The « very portentous 
scene," which, by his advices from Paris, " appeared to be open- 
ing there," doubtless referred to what the newspapers have 
called « another explosion." The dismission of Treilhard from 
the Du-ectory, and the forced resignation of la Reveillere le 
Peaux and Merlin, which, with the other proceedings of the two 
councils, demonstrate that the dictatorial power of the Directory 
is overturned, have suggested to the heads of department some 

1 Volume viii. p. 627. 


doubts of the expediency of an immediate departure of the 

The men lately in power, who gave the assurances you 
required, relative to the mission, being ousted in a manner indi- 
cative of a revolution in the public mind, and, according to Mr. 
Murray's letter, the threats, now first uttered by the military, of a 
KING, show such instability and uncertainty in the government 
of France, and are ominous of such further and essential 
changes, probably at no great distance, as made it appear to us 
a duty to submit to your consideration the question of a tem- 
porary suspension of the mission to that country, where a state 
of things, and that final result which you long since foresaw 
and predicted, appear to be rapidly advancing. Such a suspen- 
sion would seem to us to place the United States in a more 
commanding situation, and enable the President to give such a 
turn to the mission as the impending changes should in his 
opinion demand. 

Or if a revival of the system of ten'or should first take place, 
which the last arrival of intelligence at New York now shows 
to be probable, still the question of suspending the mission seems 
to the heads of department to merit serious consideration. It is 
an undoubted fact, that the character of the late change at Paris 
has been purely Jacobinical. The clubs have been again opened, 
and the Jacobins are everywhere active to electrify the people.^ 
I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c. 

Timothy Pickering. 


Trenton, 13 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I am honored with your letter of the 4th instant, and 
cannot but lament that the accommodations to be obtained here 
are very far inferior to such as would be suitable for the Presi- 

' This letter, though sent in the name of the Secretary of State, was con- 
curred in cordially by the Secretary of the Treasury and by the Secretary of 
"War — and more hesitatingly by Mr. Stoddert, -who had begun to show symp- 
toms of disagreement with the policy of his colleagues. Mr. Lee, the Attorney- 
General, had differed with them on the nomination of Mr. Vans Murray, which 
he approved. He also differed with them upon the propriety of suspending the 

VOL. IX. 3 


dent of the United States. Indeed, I am afraid none could be 
obtained which would not be extremely inconvenient and dis- 
agreeable to both Mrs. Adams and yourself. Yet having no 
motive unconnected with your honor and that of the govern- 
ment, I hope you will pardon my freedom in adhering to my 
wish that you would join the officers here, before the departure 
of the mission to France. Or, if that should be suspended, that 
you would not give the order for the suspension before your 
arrival here. Colonel Pickering has addressed a letter to you 
on this subject, with the concurrence of the other departments. 
If you should be determined on the measure, nothing will be 
lost by delaying to take it for a month, for I am sure the com- 
missioners will not sooner than that time be ready to sail ; and 
Mi\ Davie, who will leave North Carolina the 20th September, 
could not be stopped much short of Trenton, if you were to 
give orders for stopping him. On the other hand, if you should 
consider the measure as a questionable one, you might, a month 
hence, decide it, with the advantage of the lights which all the 
advices to be received for a month, which may be very import- 
ant, might throw on the subject. Whether it be decided to 
suspend the mission, or otherwise, the decision may and will be 
important. It will be a great measure either way, and will be 
attended with consequences in proportion to its magnitude. All 
the solemnity possible should perhaps be given to the decision. 
General Washington, one of the most attentive men in the 
world to the manner of doing things, owed a great proportion 
of his celebrity to this circumstance. It appears to me, that the 
decision in question would be better supported throughout the 
country, if it be taken when you are surrounded by the officers 
of government and the ministers, even if it should be against 
their unanimous advice. 

I will state, as briefly as I can, other reasons which influence 
my wishes on the subject of your coming to Trenton. 

I have never entertained the opinion, prevalent with many 
persons, that we could not, during the present war in Europe, 
maintain peace with both France and England, though I believe 
it wiU be a difficult matter. There are already indications that 
England looks at us with a jaundiced eye, arising in part per- 
haps from the effort to treat with France, in part from the repre- 
sentations made by their commissioners and their minister, on 


the subject of the commission under the sixth article of the treaty. 
No doubt their commissioners had for a long time been preju- 
diced and soured, and have in some instances acted as if it was 
their desire to plunge the two nations into war. Our own, I 
believe, have been actuated by pure views, but the difference 
between them on almost every question has been so wide, that 
it is difficult to conceive that both sides could have been rational, 
and at the same time possess a desire to bring the business to 
a just conclusion. Mr. Listen, mild and reasonable as he may 
appear on other subjects, has not been so on this, and Mr. Rich, 
who is to return to England in the packet, has written a letter 
to our commissioners sufficiently indicative of a mind highly 

We have a right to make peace with France wdthout asking 
the permission of England, and we are not to submit to un- 
reasonable and unjust constructions of the treaty for fear of her 
resentment. It is our inclination and our policy to yield to no 
injustice, and to do none. Acting on this system, if England 
insists on a quarrel, however we may lament the calamity, we 
need not fear the result, if our own people are satisfied that the 
government has acted in all instances right. But amicable and 
candid explanations are due to England and to ourselves. I 
should presume it would be very proper to assure her imme- 
diately, that to obtain peace with France we would sacrifice no 
just right of England ; and that a fair and candid representation 
of the true grounds of difference between the commissioners 
should be immediately furnished to Mr. King, with assurances 
of the sincere desire of the government to execute justly the 
treaty according to its true meaning. Perhaps it might be found 
that some constructions of our commissioners might be yielded, 
and that England might be told on what fair ground we could 
meet her. 

Colonel Pickering is certainly too much occupied with the 
business of his department to find time to understand this sub- 
ject so well as our commissioners and the Attorney-General 
must do ; and it has therefore appeared to me that the best 
course would be to call these gentlemen, at least the Attorney- 
General, to the seat of government, to prepare the representation, 
which should afterwards be pruned, by the heads of department, 
of every thing like acrimony, and of any argument, if any such 


found admittance, calculated to confute rather than to convince. 
Thus corrected, it might be submitted to the President. Now, 
it seems to me that this course could not be adopted without 
the direction of the President, nor, indeed, so well executed 
without his presence ; and I think the peace of the country may 
depend upon taking the true ground now, and upon promptly 
carrying into effect the proper measures to prevent a misunder- 
standing, where it is so much our interest to be understood. 

The great number of captures and condemnations, at Provi- 
dence and Jamaica, of our vessels, has produced a sourness among 
the best of our merchants, which will increase. If they arise 
from the avarice and iniquity of the judges, without any agency 
on the part of government, they would cease on a representa- 
tion of the injury. If they are countenanced by the government, 
this would probably cease, and reparation be made, if misrepre- 
sentations and prejudices are removed. At all events, it is 
degrading to our government to suffer them to continue, with- 
out an effort to prevent them. 

On the subject of the mission to France, your character is 
known throughout the whole of the country ; the gentlemen who 
fill the great offices more immediately connected with the Pre- 
sident, however high their merit, and however respected, where 
known, not having before acted on the great theatre in conspi- 
cuous stations, are not enough known to inspire the same degree 
of confidence ; and it may not be believed that the instructions 
to the ministers will wear exactly the same complexion, if you 
are at Quincy, when they are delivered, as they would have 
done, had you been on the spot. 

As to the considerations which I meant as more immediately 
relating to yourself, I have been apprehensive that artful design- 
ing men might make such use of your absence from the seat of 
government, when things so important to restore peace with 
one country, and to preserve it with another, were transacting, 
as to make your next election less honorable than it would 
otherwise be. 

I have thus. Sir, in a very tedious letter indulged myself in 
great freedoms. I have given my opinions with candor, but 
with great diffidence ; for I am sensible that I am but a poor 
politician. I hope you will not think the trouble of an answer 
at all necessary. "Whatever course you take, my inclination 


will prompt me to think right, and my duty to support. I will, 
however, observe, that if you should come to Trenton by the 
10th of October, it will be in time to see the ministers, should 
they proceed on the mission ; in one month later, it will be safe 
to go to Philadelphia, where I presume you would choose to be, 
about that time. 

I have the honor to be, &c., &c. 

Ben. Stoddert. 


Quincy, 14 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I received last night your favor of the 5th. The gen- 
tleman you mention is a native of Boston, and well known. I 
shall make no observations on his character. None of the 
suspicions of the Americans in France, which the gentleman 
of Maryland mentioned to you, will surprise the federalists in 
this quarter.! But the popularity of the French has so dwindled 
away, that no impression can be made to any great eflfect in 
their favor. The nomination of envoys to treat has taken away 
so many pretexts from some, and given such opportunities for 
others to " back out," as my wagoners express themselves, that 
the French government at least has few advocates left. Hich- 
born is a man of talents, but of such mysterious, enigmatical, 
and incomprehensible conduct, that no party seems to have 
much confidence in him, though he is supposed to be inveterate 
in opposition to federal men and measures. 


Quiucy, 16 September, 3 799. 

Sir, — Saturday, the 14th, at night, I received, by the hand 

of William Smith, Esquire, your favor of the 10th. I have once 

read, with some care, the important State paper inclosed with 

it, and find little to add, little to diminish, and very little to 

J These suspicions mentioned in Mr. Stoddcrt's letter were, that Mr. Hichborn 
was an instrument of the French government, returning home to efTect some 
secret purpose. This is the same gentleman mentioned in vol. ii. p. 410. 



correct.^ You do not inform me whether it has been considered 
by the heads of department, and received their corrections or 
approbation, but intimate that you should forward, by the mail 
of the next day, some papers respecting it. I shall wait for 
these, and then give them, and the excellent composition they 
are connected with, a more attentive perusal, and write my 
sentiments fully on the subject. Little time shall be lost. The 
revolution in the Directory, and the revival of the clubs and 
private societies in France, and the strong appearances of 
another reign of democratic fury and sanguinary anarchy ap- 
proaching, seem to justify a relaxation of our zeal for the sudden 
and hasty departure of our envoys. If they remain in America 
till all apprehensions of the autumnal equinoctial gales are 
passed, it will be so much the more agreeable for them, and not 
less safe for the public. I am not sanguine enough to anticipate 
news of the arrival of Prince Charles or Marshal Suwarrow at 
Paris, or of a league with the King of Prussia, to restore monarchy 
to France ; but I think we may expect news by the middle of 
October, which it may be advantageous for us to know, before 
the departure of our envoys.^ I would come on to Trenton 
before their sailing, if there were reason to suppose there would 
be any utility in such a sacrifice. But I presume the whole 
business may be as well conducted by letter and the post. If 
you think otherwise, you will please to let me know. 


Quincy, 18 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I have ruminated so long upon the case of Andrew 
Anderson, that I am under some apprehension that my feelings 
have grown too strong, and produced a result that will not 
appear to you perfectly right. I consider Cox and his associates 

1 The instructions to the new ministers. 

2 It seems difficult to conceive how any members of the cabinet could have 
misunderstood the extent of Mr. Adams's design to postpone the departure of 
the envoys, after the reading of this letter. They would not have done so, if 
they had not been totally blinded by their hopes, that they could ultimately 
overrule the whole project. They were not without stimulants from persons 
outside to attempt tliis. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 245. Ham- 
ilton's Works, \o\. vi. p. 414. 


as very artful men, and, being probably considered as men of 
great consequence in that country, they had the influence to 
seduce a poor soldier to a crime, for which they probably deserve 
to be punished, as well as he. In announcing the pardon 
inclosed, you may order what solemnities you think fit. He 
may receive his pardon at the gallows, where it may be 
announced that it will be the last time such a crime will be 


Hartford, 18 September, 1799. 

Sir, — If the present convulsion in France, and the symptoms 
of a gi-eater change at hand, should induce you, as many seem 
to expect, to postpone for a short time the mission to that 
counti-y, I wish for the earliest notice of it. The Circuit Court 
in this State and Vermont fell through last spring from the 
indisposition of Judge Chase, and must now fall through again 
from the indisposition of Judge Cushing, unless I attend them. 
I am beginning the court here, and should proceed on to Ver- 
mont, if I was sure of not being called on in the mean time to 
embark. It is. Sir, my duty to obey, not advise, and I have 
only to hope that you will not disapprove of the method I take 
to learn the speediest intimation of yours.^ 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

Oliver Ellsworth. 


Quincy, 19 September, 1799. 

Sir, — On the 17th, at night, I had the pleasure of receiving 
your favor of the 11th, and have given it that attention which 
the great importance of its contents deserves.^ On the subject 
of the role d'equipag-e, 1 feel a strong reluctance to any relaxation 

' "A soldier tried on a charge of deserting his post, and aiding and assisting 
two prisoners to make their escape from confinement, when he was sentinel and 
had charge of them, and losing his arms and accoutrements." McHenry's Letter, 
11th September. 

* This letter had been instigated by more than one member of the cabinet. 
Mr. Ellsworth seems to have sent it at a venture. See his letters to Mr. Wolcott 
in Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 265, 266. / 

3 Page 23. 


of the peremptory demand we agreed on before I left Philadel- 
phia, and General Marshall's observations are very just, yet it 
may be wiser to leave it to the discretion of the envoys, under 
the limitations suggested, and I shall acquiesce in the opinion 
of the heads of department. I am glad you have sent a copy 
to the chief justice. I had several long conversations with him 
last winter, on the whole subject. He appears to me to agi'ee 
most perfectly in sentiment with me upon every point of our 
policy towards France and England, and this policy was founded 
only in perfect purity of moral sentiment, natural equity, and 
Christian faith towards both nations. I am, therefore, under no 
hesitation in the propriety of sending the draught to him, nor 
in consenting that, if want of time should prevent a second 
transmission of the instructions to me, the heads of department, 
in concert with him, may maive alterations in the draught, within 
the limitations you propose. Indeed, Mr. Ellsworth is so great 
a master of business, and his colleagues are so intelligent, that 
I should not be afraid to allow them a greater latitude of dis- 
cretion, if it were not unfair to lay upon them alone the burden 
and the dangerous responsibility that may accompany this busi- 

That portentous scenes are opened in France, is past a doubt. 
The directors, who sent us the assurances, are, for what we 
know, all removed. The new ones we know nothing of. Bar- 
ras, we have no reason to believe very friendly to us. Sieyes, 
we have reason to fearj is unfriendly. The " threats by the 
military, of a king," which Mr. Murray mentions, are to me no 
solid indications of a restoration. That every comet, which 
has appeared, will return, I have no doubt; but the period of its 
revolution is very difficult to calculate. The system of terror 
will revive, if the terrorists can find means to revive it. These 
means imply money to pay, clothe, feed, and arm soldiers, on 
one hand, and timidity and dejection enough in their domestic 
enemies to submit to their exactions and cruelties. These are 
all problems to us, to all Europe, and, probably, to the French 

There is one observation which appears to me of great im- 
portance. The reign of terror has ever appeared the most dis- 
posed to accommodate with us. This is humiliating enough, 
but it is not our fault. It is not very clear to me what our 


inferences ought to be from this fact. Neither the royalists, nor 
the aristocrats, nor the priesthood, have ever discovered the least 
complaisance for us. It is an awful question to me what chance 
we should have, if our ambassadors should have to treat at a 
Congress for a general pacification. Should we not have more 
to fear from the secret jealousy of every power, than even from 
that of France and Spain ? With great anxiety upon this whole 
subject, and with much respect for you, I remain 

John Adams. 

P. S. I return Mr. Murray's letter, and I will soon write more 
directly concerning the draught. 


Quincy, 21 September, 1799. 

Sometime between the 10th and 15th of October I shall join 
you at Trenton, and will suspend till that time the ultimate 
determination concerning the instructions. I pray you to write 
to the Attorney- General to meet us. We must be all together, 
to determine all the principles of our negotiations with France 
and England. 

I have been obliged to sail for Europe in the middle of winter 
once, and on the 17th of November at another time. Any day 
between the 20th and 30th of October is as good a time to 
embark for Europe, as any part of the year. If our envoys 
are delayed so long at least, it will be no misfortune. 


Quincy, 21 September, 1799. 

Sir, — I have read over and over again your letter of the 13th. 
I regret extremely another blunder of the post-office, by which 
it has been sent to the southward and returned to me only last 
night. You needed not to have apologized for its length ; there 
is not a word in it to spare. You may not write me any more 
letters, which are to reach Quincy or Boston, after the 29th of 
September. I will be at Trenton by the 10th, 12th, or at latest 


the 15th of October, if no fatal accident prevents. Mrs. Adams^ 
although she is determined to risk her life by one more journey 
to Philadelphia, will not come with me. She will come after 
me, so that I shall want no extraordinary accommodations. I 
can and will put up, with my private secretary and two domes- 
tics only, at the first tavern or first private house I can find: I 
shall desire the attendance of the Attorney- General and the 
American commissioners as soon as possible, at Trenton, after 
the 12th or 15th of October. 

I have only one favor to beg, and that is that a certain elec- 
tion may be wholly laid out of this question and all others. I 
know the people of America so well, and the light in which I 
stand in their eyes, that no alternative will ever be left to me, 
but to be a President of three votes or no President at all, and 
the difference, in my estimation, is not worth three farthings.^ 
With a strong attachment to you, I am, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 21 September, 1799. 

I pray you to write me no letters to reach Quincy or Boston 
after the 29th. On next Monday, sen'night, I shall set out for 
Trenton, and reach it at latest by the 15th of October. I also 
request that you would write to the Attorney-General and 
the American commissioners to meet us all at Trenton at as 
early a day, after the 15th, as you shall judge proper. I also 
desire that all this may be kept as secret as possible, that my 
journey may meet as little interruption as possible. I shall 
come alone. Mrs. Adams will follow me soon enough to go 
with me to Philadelphia. 


Quincy, 22 September, 1799. 

Dear Sir, — I received last night your favor of the 18th. 
Judge Gushing called here yesterday in his way to Vermont. 

1 Mr. Wolcott, on the other hand, seeking for bad motives, finds them in the 
" belief that the President supposes he is conciliating the opposition." Gibbs's 
Memoirs, &c. vol. ii. p. 279. 


This, however, may not perhaps make any alteration in your 
views. The convulsions in France, the change of the Directory, 
and the prognostics of greater change, will certainly induce me 
to postpone for a longer or shorter time the mission to Paris. 
I wish you to pursue your office of Chief Justice of the United 
States without interruption, till you are requested to embark. 
You will receive from the Secretary of State letters which will 
occupy your leisure hours. I should be happy to have your 
own opinion upon all points. We may have further information 
from Europe. If your departure for Europe should be postponed 
to the 20th of October, or even to the 1st of November, as safe 
and as short a passage may be expected as at any other season 
of the year. This is all I can say at present.^ 

With great and sincere esteem, &c. 

John Adams. 

to t. pickering, secretary of state. 

Quincy, 23 September, 1799. 

I return you ]VIr. Murray's letters of May 28th, June 13th and 
22d, and July 13th and 15th, and the parts of newspapers inclosed 
with them. The private letter you sent me from Mr. Murray, 
some time ago, contained much such a review of the pamphlet 
of Boulay de la Meurthe. I have been anxious to see it, but it 
is not yet arrived. A parallel between the English republic and 
the French njust be a curious thing. I have long thought that 
the present generation in France, England, Ireland, and Ame- 
rica, had never read Lord Clarendon. I am afraid Mr. Murray 
has not. If he had, he would be less sanguine about so early a 
restoration in France.^ 

For my own part, I have more anxiety about the English than 

1 Mr. Ellsworth communicated the substance of this letter to Mr. Wolcott, 
construing it as a suspension of his destiny to France. And it seems to have 
confirmed the cabinet in their confidence that they should finally defeat the 
mission. The ministers actually sailed on the 3d of November. Gibbs's Federal 
Adininistrattotis, vol. ii. p. 2G6. 

2 "Mr. Murray (in letters, mostly private, which I have laid before the 
President) viewing the State of France within, and its foreign relations, from a 
near station, supposes the republic will not survive six months; the President 
supposes it Avill last seven years, and desires his opinion may be remembered." 
T. Pickering to G. Washington, in Gibbs's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 281. 

The republic lasted about five years. The restoration took place sixteen 
years afterwards. 


the French. Chance, or, if you will. Providence, has added to 
two Scotchmen a Godwinian descendant of a French refugee, 
and justice, I fear, will not be heard. ^ I own, I doubt whether 
we had not better meet the result in all its deformities. I am de- 
termined, so far as depends vipon me, to execute the treaty in 
its full extent. If it costs us four millions sterling, when it 
ought not to cost us one, I had rather pay it than depart from 
good faith or lie under the suspicion of it. If the judgment of 
Messrs. McDonald, Rich, and Guillemard, finally prevails, 
British equity will never be forgotten in America. The court 
have us in their power. If we believe Britons less hungry for 
plunder than Frenchmen, we shall be deceived. 

I shall be with you between the 10th and 15th of October. 


Trenton, 24 September, 1799. 

Sir, — The subject of the proposed mission to France is so 
important, that, whether it proceed or be suspended, your deci- 
sion will certainly be the result of your mature consideration. 
But as the idea has occurred to you of coming to Trenton, and 
you have intimated that you would do it, if judged best, I have 
consulted my colleagues, and they concur with me in opinion 
that it will be an eligible step. Governor Davie will probably 
be here the first week in October, and Judge Ellsworth will 
doubtless be ready to meet him ; or if you should conclude to 
come on, the judge would certainly be gratified in waiting to 
accompany you. 

Governor Davie, having relinquished his government and 
made arrangements for the voyage to Europe, will probably be 
better satisfied, after making the long journey from North Caro- 
lina, to return home again, if the further suspension of the 
mission take place, after a personal interview with you and his 
colleague; and your final determination relative to the mission 
will doubtless give more general satisfaction to the community 
at large, when accompanied with these solemnities. 

If, however, the news expected from Europe should be of a 

* This refers to the commission under the sixth article of Jay's Treaty. 


nature, not only to strengthen your reasons for the temporary 
suspension which you have already deemed expedient ; but if 
new facts should be decisive of the course proper to be pursued, 
the trouble of your journey may be saved. 

These observations are most respectfully submitted to your 
consideration ^ by 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 

Timothy Pickering. 


Quincy, 26 September, 1799. 

I return you Mr. Read's letter, and the note inclosed in your 
favor of the 19th.2 

From a long intimacy wdth Mr. Izard, and a knowledge of 
his worth, and from some acquaintance with his son, I assure 
you that nothing of the kind could give me more pleasure than 
the appointment of Ralph Izard, the son of Ralph Izard of South 
Carolina, to be a midshipman in the navy. I wish it had been 
my fortune to have had a son or grandson of a suitable age to 
be appointed to a similar office in the same day. I shall take 
you by the hand not long after the 10th of October, I hope. 

John Adams. 


Windsor, 5 October, 1799. 

Sir, — Since you passed on, I have concluded to meet Gover- 
nor Davie at Trenton, which he probably will expect, and which, 
besides putting it in our power to pay you our joint respects, 
and to receive as fully any communication of your views as you 
may wish to make, may enable me to accompany him east- 
ward, should you continue inclined to such suspension of our 
mission, as, under present aspect, universal opinion, I believe, 
and certainly my own, would justify. 

It is a matter of some regret, Sir, that I did not consult you 

' It would appear from the tone of this letter as if the cabinet, at this date, had 
concerted their measures to secure the defeat of the mission, and felt confident 
of success. Hence the extent of their surprise and mortification when the com- 
bination proved of no avail. i 

2 These papers requested the appointment of Mr. Izard. 

VOL. IX. 4 


on the propriety of this visit; ^ but if I err, experience has taught 
me that you can excuse. 

I have the honor, &c. 

Oliver Ellsavorth. 


Winchester, 6 October, 1799. 

Sir, — Hoping it will not be deemed improper in me to give 
my opinion, before it is asked, relative to the suspension of the 
mission to France, I will take the liberty of expressing it. I 
have reflected on the subject a good deal, and I cannot perceive 
any suflicient reasons for the suspension.'^ Such a measure 
would exceedingly disappoint the general expectation of Ame- 
rica, and, exciting the jealousy and suspicion of many concerning 
your sincerity in making the nomination, would afford your 
enemies an opportunity of indulging their evil dispositions. If 
the envoys proceed, as I think they ought, it does not appear 
to me that any inconvenience will be felt by the United States, 
even if they should find a monarch on the throne of France, 
which I by no means expect will very soon happen.^ 
I am, Sir, with perfect respect, &c. 

Charles Lee. 

' The singular language used in this letter, indicating in the first paragraph a 
change, and in the second, a mere concealment of purpose, taken in connection 
with Mr. Pickering's letter of the 24th, suggesting the presence of ]\Ir. Ellsworth, 
might well justify a suspicion of concert between them, without meriting any 
reproach on Mr. Adams as being unreasonable. 

On tliis same day, Mr. Ellsworth reported the substance of his conference 
with Mr. Adams, " to a friend." Such is the guarded language of Mr. Gibbs. 
That friend was pi-obably Mr. Pickering. Gibbs's Fed. Adm., vol. ii. p. 267, 
note. p. 280. 

2 Mr. Jay's opinion is quite as clear. See liis letter to Theophilus Parsons. 
Jay's Life of John Jai/, vol. ii. p. 296. 

3 On the other hand, Mr. Hamilton had worked himself up to the apprehen- 
sion that the execution of this measure would " involve the United States in a 
Avar on the side of France with her enemies." Mr. Pickering does not seem 
to have apprehended so much that no treaty could be made, as that it would be 
made too easily, and would go too far against Great Britain. Mr. Wolcott con- 
curred with Mr. Hamilton. Mr. McHenry, on the contraiy, although agreeing 
in their views, seems to have foreseen the possibility of what really happened. 
See his letter to Wasliiagton. Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 414. Gibbs's Fede- 
ral Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 280, 281, 282. 



Trenton, 16 October, 1799. 

Sir, — I request you to order fair copies of the instructions, 
as corrected last evening, to be prepared and delivered to Judge 
Ellsworth and Governor Davie, with another for ]Mr. Murray, 
without loss of time, and to write a letter to those gentlemen, 
as envoys extraordinary to the French republic, expressing, with 
the affectionate respects of the President, his desire that they 
would take their passage for France on board the frigate the 
United States, Captain Barry, now lying at Rhode Island, by 
the 1st of November, or sooner, if consistent with their conve- 
niences. Captain Barry will have orders to land them in any 
port of France which they may prefer, and to touch at any other 
ports which they may desire. The President's best wishes for 
their health and happiness, as well as for an honorable termina- 
tion of their mission, will attend them. As their visit to France 
is at one of the most critical, important, and interesting moments 
that ever have occurred, it cannot fail to be highly entertaining 
and instructive to them, and useful to their country, whether it 
terminates in peace and reconciliation, or not. The President 
sincerely prays God to have them in his holy keeping.^ 

I am. Sir, &c. 

John Adams. 


Trenton, 16 October, 1799. 

I request you to transmit immediate orders to Captain Barry 
to receive on board his frigate and convey to France, and such 
port of France as they shall desire, our envoys to the French 
republic, with directions to touch at any other ports which they 
may point out, and to sail by the 1st of November, or sooner, 

1 Thus terminated the long continued struggle of the three cabinet ministers 
to overrule the President ; and from this date commences their secret cabal, 
darkly alluded to in Mr. Stoddert's letter of the 13th September, in conjunction 
with Mr. Hamilton, to set him aside at the next election. The first movement 
which was to call out General AVashington, had been under consideration by 
them for some time, awaiting this decision. Mr. McHenry says that Mr. Stod- 
dert and Mr. Lee were now prepared to "advise the dismission, at least of one." 
Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 243, p. 245, p. 282. 


if consistent with their convenience. 1 need say nothing of 
the respect to be paid, or the honors to be done, to these great 
characters. Captain Barry is to await their return to the United 


John Adams. 



Trenton, 18 October, 1799. 

As the session of Congress draws nigh, I pray you to favor 
me with your sentiments concerning the communications neces- 
sary to be made to Congress of the state of the nation, and 
particularly a concise narration of the proceedings with St. 
Domingo and the Isle of France. It may be doubtful, however, 
whether any thing need be said on the last. A very succinct 
account of the invitation of the French Directory to our envoys, 
of the subsequent change, and the short pause made on this 
side the water in consequence of it, may be proper ; and very 
explicit declarations that no relaxation will take place in any 
executive part of government in consequence of the mission, till 
we know its result, either in preparations for defence by sea 
and land, or in the employment of the means aheady provided 
by the legislature. In short, whatever is thought proper to be 
mentioned to Congress from the full consideration of the state 
of the nation, in all its relations, will be received from the Secre- 
tary of State with great pleasure by his faithful, humble servant. 

John Adams. 

N. B. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned particularly the 
unfortunate interpretation of the boards of commissioners, the 
observations to be made on them, and the sentiments proper to 
be expressed in consequence of them, and the miserable rebellion 
in Pennsylvania, which must be stated, I suppose, with the 
means of its suppression.^ 

1 Similar requests were addressed on the same day to the other cabinet officers. 
That to ISIr. Wolcott is printed in Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 298. 



Philadelphia, 12 November, 1799. 

I think it will be expedient to lay before Congress, on the 
second day of the session, all the papers which relate to the 
embassy to France, that they may be printed together, and the 
public enabled to judge from correct and authentic documents. 
To this end I request you to order copies to be made of your 
letter to Mr. Murray and his answer, of his letter to Talleyrand, 
and his answer, which should be copied in French, and accom- 
panied with a translation into English. 

The proclamations, that respecting the insurrection in Penn- 
sylvania, and that respecting St. Domingo, should also be laid 
before Congress, together with copies of any other papers rela- 
tive to both transactions, which you may judge necessary or 
proper, and I pray you to have them prepared accordingly. 

The organization of the government of the Mississippi terri- 
tory, and the demarcation of the line, should perhaps be men- 
tioned to Congress, and I pray you to furnish me a sketch of 
the facts as they appear from the intelligence in your office. 


Philadelphia, 15 November, 1799. 

Sir, — By some accident or other, the original papers con- 
cerning the conspiracy against the laws and the beginning of 
the late insurrection in Pennsylvania, were never laid before me. 
I believe they were transmitted to you by the judge and the 
marshal. How far it will be necessary to communicate the 
facts in detail to Congress, you will be so good as to consider ; 
and I should be obliged to you for your sentiments concerning 
all things to be inserted in the speech, as soon as may be con- 
venient, because the time draws so near that something must 
be soon brought to a conclusion. I wish for your opinions on 
all points,! but particularly on the rebellion, and the St. Domingo 

1 Mr. Wolcott's answer, dated 18th November, 1799, is printed in Gibbs's 
work, vol. ii. pp. 299 - 306. 




Philaclelphia, 2 December, 1799. 

I return you my hearty thanks for the obliging present of your 
reports, in three very handsome volumes, which I received on 
Saturday. I prize them highly, not only in the light in which 
you present them, but on account of their intrinsic merit and 
worth to a profession, which after a divorce of more than a 
quarter of a century I still hold in affection and veneration. 

Candor obliges me to say that I have made a singular obser- 
vation relative to this work. Although, in the times which have 
passed since its first publication, the spirit of party has been 
disposed to call in question the integrity of every man and 
every action, I have never heard an insinuation against the 
fidelity of these reports. As the year books, and the reporters 
who have followed, have fixed the laws of England upon such 
permanent principles of equity and humanity, I hope these 
volumes will be the beginning of a series which will prove stiU 
more beneficial to mankind.^ 

John Adams. 

to t. pickering, secretary of state. 

Phlladelpliia, 7 December, 1799. 
The Attorney- General has left with me, and I now send to 
you, a project of an explanatory article or treaty, and a project 
of a letter to Mr. King, desiring an ultimatum. There is no 
business before the government, at this time, of more importance 
than this, and I pray you to turn your attention to it, and pre- 
pare a draught of a letter to Mr. King, to be considered, if pos- 
sible, on Monday evening at six o'clock, at my chamber, when 
I ask the favor of your company, with all the heads of depart- 

1 Mr. Dallas had addressed the following note to Mr. Adams : 

Philadelphia, 30 November, 1799. 

Sir, — Permit me to request, that you will honor a set of my reports with a 
place in your library. If your political cares have not extinguished the profes- 
sional ardor which you displayed In the early period of your life, the volumes 
will afford you some amusement. 

But I particularly beg you to accept them as a mark of the sincere respect 
with which I am, Sir, &c. A. J. Dallas. 

2 Mr. Wolcott's memorandum of the advice given by him at the cabinet meet- 



Of the President on some observations made to him by 
the Secretary of the Treasury upon the measures proper to 
be taken for obtaining an explanation of the 6th article of the 
treaty with Britain.^ 

Page 2, line 18th. A special commission is proposed. The 
President understood it to be the unanimous opinion of the 
heads of department, that no special commission would be 
necessary. A nomination to the Senate will be necessary to a 
special commission. The full powers possessed by Mr. King 
are supposed to be sufficient. 

Page 3. The concession proposed in this page, the President 
fears, and indeed believes, is too well founded. But the facts 
should be well considered, and be capable of being made certain, 
before such an admission is made by the President's orders. 

Page 13. Although neither nation has been brovight to admit 
that they were chargeable with the first infraction, yet no Ame- 
rican can forget the carrying off the negroes. 

Page 17. It may not be very material, but the acknowledg- 
ment of independence, at the treaty of peace, may fairly imply 
more than is contended for in the second paragraph of this page, 
against the authority, validity, and effect of the acts and decla- 
rations of the British during the war. 

Page 19. I cannot see any distinction in favor of officers, 
civil, or military, or naval. They are no more bound by obliga- 
tions of allegiance than any other subjects. I cannot agree to 
the sentiment at the bottom of this page. 

Page 20. I cannot agree that the obligations of allegiance 
and patriotism are or can be ever inconsistent or irreconcilable. 
Nor can I admit a supposition which seems to be here implied, 

ings on this subject, held on the 13th and 14th November, is given by Mr. 
Gibbs. Vol. ii. p. 306. He recommended that such a letter and project as the 
one here mentioned should be prepared. Mr. Stoddert had suggested that the 
Attorney-General should be the person to perform this duty. See page 27. 
And this suggestion seems to have been adopted. 

1 In ]Mr. Wolcott's memorandum, referred to in the last note, it is stated that 
a report on the subject of the suspension of the boards of commissioners under 
the British treaty, was made to the President, December 11th, 1799. This 
report is not found among Mr. Adams's papers; and it is not printed in Mr. 
Gibbs's work, because " possessed of no present interest." These notes upon 
that report are without date, but they were probably drawn up on the 1 2th. 


namely, that the revolution or American war, as it was called, 
had for its object the division of an empire. This will require 
so long an investigation, and so many distinctions and restric- 
tions, that the whole of this must be expunged. 

Page 21. We can never consistently admit that the acts and 
declarations of Britain were of any legal value at all, not even 
within the sphere of their influence. 

Page 21, section 5th. The President has no control over the 
opinions of judges. They are as independent as he is. Their 
judgments in courts must be executed. The President, how- 
ever, is very much dissatisfied with this passage, and fears that 
wrong will be done in consequence of it. But he sees no pos- 
sibility of avoiding it. 

Page 23. It is too liberal on the part of the United States 
to admit that acts of confiscation, passed during the war, shall 
be considered as having been annulled, in respect to debts, by 
the treaty of peace. The President is, however, embarrassed 
by the opinion of the judges, and will not differ from the heads 
of department upon this point, but would rather, if it is possible, 
that the point should be left to the board to be appointed, than 
that a formal acknowledgment should be made by government. 

Page 32. The President doubts the expediency of the decla- 
ration at the close of the page. It is, or may be thought an 
ostentation of candor without end, effect, or utility. Perhaps a 
total silence on this head is sufficient after what has been said 
in the speech to Congress upon this subject. 


Philadelphia, 24 December, 1799. 
Sir, — I received in due season your letter of the 15th of this 
month, and immediately communicated it to both houses of 
Congress in a message. The melancholy event announced in 
it had been before communicated to the legislature, but upon 
less authentic and regular evidence. The American people are 
sincere mourners under the loss of their friend and benefactor. 
For General Washington, it is a consummation devoutly to be 


I pray you, Sir, to present my regards to Madam Washington 
and all the amiable and worthy family, and assure them of my 
sincere sympathy with them under this great affliction. 

I feel also for yourself, as you have lost in General Washing- 
ton a friend not to be replaced.^ 

With much esteem, &c. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 27 December, 1799. 

Madam, — In conformity with the desire of Congress, I do 
myself the honor to inclose by Mr. William Smith Shaw, my 
secretary, a copy of their resolutions passed the 24th instant, 
occasioned by the decease of your late consort. General George 
Washington, assuring you of the profound respect Congress 
wdll ever bear to your person and character, and of their con- 
dolence on this afflicting dispensation of Providence. In pur- 
suance of the same desire, I entreat your assent to the interment 
of the remains of the General under the marble monument to 
be erected in the capital, at the city of Washington, to com- 
memorate the great events of his military and political life. 

Renewing to you. Madam, my expressions of condolence on 
this melancholy occasion, and assuring you of the profound 
respect which I personally entertain for your person and cha- 

I remain, with great esteem. Madam, &c. 

John Adams. 

^ The death of General Washington at this moment cut off the plan which 
had been maturing to draw him back into the field of politics as President again. 
The letter of Gouverneur Morris, written by concert with Mr. Hamilton's 
friends in New England, to sound his feelings on this subject, was probably 
lying unopened on his table. That event also cut the last thread connecting 
Mr. Hamilton with Mr. Adams. In his letter to Mr. Lear, Mr. Hamilton speaks 
of Washington as having been " an jEgis very essential to him." And three 
days later he writes to Rufus King, " the irreparable loss of an inestimable man 
removes a control which was felt, and was very salutary." This control was 
tacitly not less operative over himself, than over the individual upon whom he 
sought to bring it to bear. The rest of this last letter, and especially the post- 
script, reveals the writer's views of public policy, as mocUfied by this important 
event. Sparks's Life of Gouverneur Morris, vol. iii. p. 123. Hamilton's Works, 
vol. vi. pp. 415-417. 



Philadelphia, 13 January, 1800. 
We have by the President's direction considered Mr. Ran- 
dolph's letter,! and we are of opinion that the public interest 
requires that the contemptuous language therein adopted re- 
quires a public censure. 

If such addresses to the Chief Magistrate remain unnoticed, 
we are apprehensive that a precedent will be established, which 
must necessarily destroy the ancient, respectable, and urbane 
usages of this country. 

Timothy Pickering. 
Oliver Wolcott. 
James McHenry. 
Ben. Stoddert. 

TO henry KNOX. 

Philadelphia, 10 March, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have received the favor of your letter of the 
27th of last month, and feel myself much interested in the sub- 
ject of it. Mr. Stoddert had before shown me your letter to 
him, and to your son, and I had consented to the idea suggested 
in them. The navy, however, is a scene of momentous respon- 
sibility to me ; and if a ship should be lost by any man for 
whom I shall have made myself thus exclusively answerable, 
you know what candid constructions will be put upon your old 
friend and humble servant, 

John Adams. 

TO benjamin LINCOLN. 

Philadelphia, 10 March, 1800. 

My dear Friend, — I have this morning received your favor 
of the 3d, and rejoice in the recovery of your usual health, and 
pray that it may continue many years. 

^ Mr. John Randolph's letter to the President, attemptinj; to make him re- 
sponsible for certain alleged insults received by him at the Theatre from officers 
of the marine corps, was the first act which gave him any notoriety in the coun- 
try. The Attorney-General, who did not sign the above opinion, seems to have 
furnished the draught of the message finally sent to the House of Representa- 
tives, simply referring the letter, as a question of privilege, to that body. 


When I came into office, it was my determination to make 
as few removals as possible — not one from personal motives, 
not one from party considerations. This resolution I have 
invariably observed. Conviction of infidelity to a trust cannot 
be resisted, and gross misconduct in office ought not to be over- 
looked. The representations to me of the daily language of 
several officers at Portsmouth, were so evincive of aversion, if 
not hostility, to the national Constitution and government, that 
I could not avoid making some changes. IVIr. Whipple is repre- 
sented as very artful in imputing individual misfortunes to 
measures of administration, and his whole influence to have 
been employed against the government, and Mr. Whipple must 
take a more decided part before he can get over the prejudices 
against him. I never regarded his conduct about the address ; 
but his apology for it is a most miserable excuse. If the officers 
of government \vill not support it, who will ? I have no ill will 
to Mr. Whipple, and no prejudice against him, but I still think 
his removal was right. 

With great sincerity, &c. 

John Adams. 

to b. stoddert, secretary of the navy. 

Philadelphia, 31 March, 1800. 

The President of the United States requests the Secretary of 
the Navy to employ some of his clerks in preparing a catalogue 
of books for the use of his office. It ought to consist of all the 
best writings in Dutch, Spanish, French, and especially in 
English, upon the theory and practice of naval architecture, 
navigation, gunnery, hydraulics, hydrostatics, and all branches 
of mathematics subservient to the profession of the sea. The 
lives of all the admirals, English, French, Dutch, or any other 
nation, who have distinguished themselves by the boldness and 
success of their navigation, or their gallantry and skill in naval 
combats. If there are no funds which can be legally applied 
by the Secretary to the purchase of such a library, application 
ought to be made to Congress for assistance. 

31 March, 1800. 
The President of the United States requests the Secretary of 
the Navy to take immediate measures for carrying into execu- 


tion the resolution of Congress of the 29th, for presenting to 
Captain Thomas Truxtun a gold medal, emblematical of the 
late action between the United States frigate Constellation, of 
thirty-eight guns, and the French ship of war La Vengeance, 
of fifty-four, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Con- 
gress of his gallantry and good conduct in the above engage- 
ment, wherein an example was exhibited by the captain, officers, 
sailors, and mariners, honorable to the American name, and 
instructive to its rising navy. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 31 March, 1800. 

The President of the United States requests the Secretary of 
War to send him, without delay, a list of the officers of the army, 
who were appointed during the last recess of the Senate of the 
United States, that the President may be enabled to make their 
nominations, as the Constitution requires. 

31 March, 1800. 

The President of the United States requests of the Secretary 
of War immediate information, whether the commissions have 
been sent to all the officers of the army or not, and if not, how 
many remain to be sent. 


Georgetown, 8 April, 1800. 

I shall make no excuse, my dear Sir, for writing to you with 
frankness. You may judge, from the resolution I have taken 
up of entering again the field of political contention, if I have 
credit enough to be carried there, that I am strongly impressed 
with the idea that we are at an awful crisis. 

If our bark was gliding under a pleasant breeze, and the crew 
ready and disposed to join their efforts for a happy navigation, 
your age and services would entitle you to quit the tiller and 
take repose, which I dare say you would willingly do. But 
former services, in my opinion, lay you under new obligations, 
which cannot consistently be dispensed with, nor honorable 
means neglected which may continue you in a situation to be 


eminently useful. There is a great deal yet to be done to pre- 
vent our becoming a mere satellite of a mighty power. 

Persuaded that your being in the city this summer, and as 
much as you well can, will strengthen and probably extend the 
favorable sentiment entertained of you, I entreat you at least 
to visit us. I feel something of selfishness in this request. A 
personal interview with you would be highly gratifying to me. 
The men of '74 are grown scarce. How much, then, ought such 
a rarity to be valued, when recommended by intrinsic worth ! 

I am, &c. 

Thomas Johnson. 


Philadelphia, 11 April, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received this morning your favor of the 8th 
from Georgetown, with all the pleasure that we usually receive 
from seeing the face of an old friend, long esteemed, respected, 
and beloved. I envy you, however, that vivacity of youth with 
which you \vrite, and even that firm and steady hand, which 
appears in every character. 

For my own part, I. see no immediate prospect of an awful 
crisis more terrifying than I have constantly beheld for forty 
years. From the year 1760 to this moment has appeared one 
uniform state of doubt, uncertainty, and danger, to me. 

Repose is desirable enough for me, but I have been so long a 
stranger to it, that I know not whether I should not find it a 
mortal enemy. 

I know of nothing that would give me more pleasure than to 
meet you ; but whether it will be possible for me to be in the 
city before November, I know not. If any services I can render 
will be useful, I neither want a disposition to render, nor, I hope, 
resolution to suffer under them. I am weary, and so are all 
men at my age, whether in public or private life. I agree per- 
fectly with you, that a great deal is yet to be done to prevent 
our becoming a mere satellite to a mighty power. But I will 
candidly confess to yovi, I sometimes doubt which is that 
mighty power. I think there is danger from two. Nothing 
could give me more joy than your resolution to come again 
upon the stage, because I know your noble nature so well that 

VOL. IX. 5 D 


it is impossible you should be the dupe of either. It will always 
give me pleasure to hear of your welfare, as I am, with great 
and sincere esteem, ancient and modern, your friend, &c. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 23 April, 1800. 

Gentlemen, — The President of the United States proposes 
to the heads of department a subject, which, although at first 
view it may appear of inconsiderable moment, will upon more 
mature reflection be found to be of some difficulty, but of great 
importance to the honor, dignity, and consistency of the govern- 

In every government of Europe, I believe, there is a gazette 
in the service of the government, and a printer appointed, 
acknowledged, and avowed by it — in every regular government, 
at least. The Gazette of France, before the revolution, answered 
the same purpose with the London Gazette in England. Mr. 
Strahan is appointed the King's printer by patent, and is the 
editor of the London Gazette. This Gazette is said by lawyers 
and judges to be primd facie evidence in courts of justice, of 
matters of State and of public acts of the government. As it 
is published by the authority of the crown, it is the usual way 
of notifying such acts to the public, and therefore is entitled to 
credit in respect to such matters. It is a high misdemeanor to 
publish any thing as from royal authority which is not so. The 
Gazette is evidence of the King's proclamations; even the articles 
of war, printed by the King's printer, are good evidence of those 
articles. Addresses of the subjects, in bodies or otherwise, to 
the King, and his answers, are considered as matters of State 
when published in the Gazette, and are proved by it, primd facie, 
in the King's courts in Westminster Hall. The Gazette is said 
to be an authoritative means of proving all acts relating to the 
King and the State. Justice Buller asserts, that every thing 
which relates to the King, as King of Great Britain, &c., is in 
its nature public, and that a gazette which contains any thing 
done by his Majesty in his character of King, or which has passed 
through his Majesty's hands, is admissible evidence in a court of 
law to prove such thing. Without running a parallel between 


the President of the United States and the King of England, it 
is certain that the honor, dignity, and consistency of govern- 
ment is of as much importance to the people in one case as the 
other. The President must issue proclamations, articles of war, 
articles of the navy, and must make appointments in the army, 
navy, revenue, and other branches of public service ; and these 
ought all to be announced by authority in some acknowledged 
gazette. The laws ought to be published in the same. It is 
certain that a President's printer must be restrained from publish- 
iiig libels, and all paragraphs offensive to individuals, public 
bodies, or foreign nations ; but need not be forbid advertise- 
ments. The gazette need not appear more than once or twice 
a week. Many other considerations will occur to the minds of 
the secretaries. The President requests their opinion, 

1. Whether a printer can be appointed by the President, 
either with or without the advice and consent of the Senate ? 

2. Whether a printer can be obtained, without salary or fees, 
for the profit which might be made by such a gazette? 

3. Where shall we find such a printer ? 

It is certain that the present desultory manner of publishing 
the laws, acts of the President, and proceedings of the Executive 
departments, is infinitely disgraceful to the government and 
nation, and in all events must be altered.^ 


War Department, 6 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I have the honor to request that I may be permitted 
to resign the office of secretary of the department of war, and 

• The only reply to these questions found among INIr. Adams's papers, is from 
Mr. McHenry. Whilst he favors the idea that a public printer should be ap- 
pointed, he doubts the power of the President to estabhsh any such officer with 
a fixed compensation. All that can be done by the government, would be to 
allow some private printer to call himself ^;rm^er lo the President, and to give 
him from the several departments such work as belonged to each, at the esta- 
blished prices. " A better plan, particularly in view of the proposed removal 
to the new seat of government, the city of Washington, where no printer is 
understood to reside, would be that a law should be passed authorizing the Pre- 
sident to appoint from time to time some fit, trusty, and discreet person, as prin- 
ter to the United States, whose duty It should be to print the laws, &c., to be 
paid either by a fi.N:ed compensation, or according to the work done." 

The want of such an organ has been felt by the government from that day to 
this, but none has ever yet been formally established. 


that my resignation be accepted, to take place on the first day 
of June next. 

Explanations may be desired of some parts of the business 
of the war department, while under my direction, which I shall 
be very ready to give, and can more conveniently do so by con- 
tinuing in an official situation until the period mentioned. I 
shall esteem myself particularly favored by your inquiries rela- 
tive to any subject connected with my official duties, because 
I shall then have an opportunity to lay before you full informa- 
tion of what I have done or directed, together with the reasons 
and motives, known best to myself, which induced particular 

Having discharged the duties of Secretary of "War for upwards 
of four years with fidelity, unremitting assiduity, and to the 
utmost of my abilities, I leave behind me all the records of the 
department, exhibiting the principles and manner of my official 
conduct, together with not a few difficulties I have had to en- 
counter. To these written documents I cheerfully refer my 
reputation as an officer and a man.^ 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

James McHenry. 

' Much haf? been said respecting the causes of Mr. McHcnry's involuntary 
resignation. That he expected a dismission six months sooner, is tolerably clear 
from his own letter printed in Mr. Gibbs's work, vol. ii. p. 282. That he had 
merited it much earlier, is now proved by the concurring testimony of those who 
cried out the most loudly against it, when it happened. So early as July, 1798, 
Mr. Hamilton described him as " wholly insufficient for his place, with the addi- 
tional misfortune of not having the least suspicion of the fact." Hamilton's 
Works, vol. vi. p. 333. In April preceding, Mr. R. G. Harper had prevailed 
upon the President to consent to Invite Mr. Hamilton himself to occupy the 
post. " The army, under j)roper direction, will put arms into the hands of all our 
friends." Hainilton's Works, vol. vl. p. 282. Mr. Hamilton's answer is not 
given, but, in the letter to General Washington already quoted, he admits that 
Mr. JNIcHenry owed his place to Mr. Adams's forbearance. 

" The insufficiency is so great as to leave no probability that the business of 
the war department can make any tolerable progress In his hands. This has 
been long observed, and has been more than mentioned to the President by 
members of Congress. He is not Insensible, I believe, that the execution of the 
department does not produce the expected results ; but the case Is of course 
delicate and embarrassing." 

General Washington in reply says : 

" Your opinion respecting the unfitness of a certain gentleman for the office 
he holds, accords with mine ; and it is to be regretted, sorely, at this time, that 
these opinions ai'c so well founded. I early discovered, after he entered upon 
the duties of his office, that his talents were unequal to great exertions or deep 
resources. In truth they were not expected ; for the fact is, It was a Hobson's 
choice." Hamilton's Works, vol. \i. p. 337. 



Philadelphia, 10 May, 1800. 

Sir, — As I perceive a necessity of introducing a change in 
the administration of the office of State, I think it proper to 
make this communication of it to the present Secretary of State, 
that he may have an opportunity of resigning, if he chooses. I 
should wish the day on which his resignation is to take place, 
to be named by himself I wish for an answer to this letter. 

This letter is not found in Mr. Sparks's collection, for the reason given in a 
note to vol. xi. p. 285. 

Mr. Wok'ott is not a whit more equivocal in his opinion. See two letters in 
Gibbs's Memoirs of the Federal Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 101, 315, and another 
more decided still, not printed by Mr. Gibbs, in Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 406. 

The propriety of the removal being thus established by the evidence of those 
claiming to be Mr. McHenry's best friends, and independently of a still more 
serious c^uestion touching his abuse of his confidential relation with the Pi'esi- 
dent, the only matter remaining to be considered is the secondary one of the 
mode in wlaich it was done. Mr. Hamilton has already explained the difficulty 
attending Mr. McHenry's utter unconsciousness of his insufficiency ; an uncon- 
sciousness strikingly visible in his letters after his dismission. It is clear that he 
was a man who could not take a hint. In all probability this it was, that gradu- 
ally brought on the personal harshness which terminated his career. It must be 
admitted that Mr. Adams was neither so considerate nor so dignified in his case 
as he Avas in that of Mr. Pickering. But the object once effected, he seems to 
have been the first to regret that it had not been more gently done. To this 
Mr. Wolcott, with all his secret malevolence to Mr. Adams, unecpuvocally testi- 
fies. Whilst, in a secret letter to Mr. McIIenry, he instigates him to disclose 
to Mr. Hamilton, for use in his projected pamphlet against Mr. Adams, the details 
of the private conversation during the conference that led to the dismissal, in 
another letter to him of the same day, designed for public use, to protect him in 
case he was attacked on the score of incompetency, he says : — 

" Soon after your intended retirement from the department of war was made 
known to me, I waited on the President of the United States on business rela- 
ting to the treasury, when the subject of your resignation was voluntarily men- 
tioned by him. 

" The President said that he considered you a gentleman of agreeable manners, 
of extensive information, and great industry ; that he verily believed your hands 
were pure, meaning thereby, as I understood him, that he reposed entire con- 
fidence in your integrity ; that he was happy in understanding that your cir- 
cumstances were affluent, and that the loss of your late office Avould not distress 
your family ; and that if any suitable office should become vacant, he should 
with pleasure confer it on you." Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 410. 

Recent disclosures clearly prove that Mr. McHenry had not merited this 
generosity. _ He certainly was one, though the least important, of the tliree 
cabinet ministers who were untrue to him, and who betrayed his confidence. 
Neither does this testimony of Mr. Wolcott seem to have softened his rancor. 
He furnished Mr. Hamilton with a part of tlic confidential matter used by him in 
his pamphlet, and he entered warmly into the cabal to defeat Mr. Adams's reelec-- 
tion. It is, however, no more than due to him to add that, of all the parties to it, 
his letters betray the most profound sense of the degrading measures they resorted 


on or before Monday morning, because the nomination of a 
successor must be sent to the Senate as soon as they sit. 

With esteem, I am, Sir, your most obedient and humble 

John Adams. 


Department of State, Philadelphia, 12 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated 
last Saturday, stating that, " as you perceive a necessity of 
introducing a change in the administration of the office of State, 
you think it proper to make this communication of it to the 
present Secretary of State, that he may have an opportunity 
of resigning, if he chooses ; " and that " you would wish the 
day on which his resignation is to take place to be named by 

Several matters of importance in the office, in which my 
agency will be useful, will require my diligent attention until 
about the close of the present quarter. I had, indeed, contem- 
plated a continuance in office until the 4th of March next ; 
when, if Mr. Jefferson were elected President, (an event which, in 
your conversation with me last week, you considered as certain,) 
I expected to go out, of course. An apprehension of that event 
first led me to determine not to remove my family this year to 
the city of Washington ; because to establish them there would 
oblige me to incur an extraordinary expense which 1 had not 
the means of defraying; whereas, by separating myself from 
my family, and living there eight or nine months with strict 
economy, I hoped to save enough to meet that expense, should 
the occasion occur. Or, if I then went out of office, that saving- 

to. He desifinates their conduct as " tremulous, timid, feeble, deceptive, and 

cowardly. They write private letters. To whom ? To each other." 

" They meditate in private. Can good come out of such a system ? If the party 
recovers its pristine energy and splendor, shall I ascribe it to such cunning, 
paltry, indecisive, back-door conduct?" 

For the evidence to sustain all these views, drawn exclusively from the parties 
implicated, see O. Wolcott's private letter to J. McHenry, 26 August, 1800, 
in Mr. Gibbs's work, vol. ii. p. 409. Also his public letter of the same date, 
inclosed in the other, p. 410, which must also be compared with the letter to 
Hamilton, p. 416. Also McHenry to Wolcott, in the same work, vol. ii. pp. 
384-385, 413. 


would enable me to subsist my family a few months longer, 
and perhaps aid me in transporting them into the woods, where 
I had land, though all wild and unproductive, and where, like 
my first ancestor in New England, I expected to commence a 
settlement on bare creation. I am happy that I now have this 
resource, and that those most dear to me have fortitude enough 
to look at the scene without dismay, and even without regret. 
Nevertheless, after deliberately reflecting on the overture you 
have been pleased to make to me, I do not feel it to be my 

du ty to r esign. 

^ I have the honor to be, &c. 

Timothy Pickering. 

TO timothy PICKERING. 

Philadelphia, 12 May, 1800. 

Sir, — Divers causes and considerations, essential to the 
administration of the government, in my judgment, requiring a 
change in the department of State, you are hereby dischar ged 
from any further service as Secretar y of Stat^.^ 

John Adams, 
President of the United States. 

1 This letter closes the official relations of Mr. Pickering to the President. 
Construing his duty as a cabinet officer as consistent with a singular latitude in 
secretly counteracting the policy and betraying the purposes of his chief, he 
seems at the same time, by his refusal to resign, and his complaints afterwards, 
to have overlooked the doctrine which he himself laid down less than three years 
before. In his letter to Mr. Monroe, of the 24th July, 1797, he says, among 
many other things quite applicable to his own case ; — 

"Again, the want of confidence, from whatever cause it may arise, is a good 
reason for changing a diplomatic agent. If he is found on experience to be 
deficient in judgment, skill, or diligence, or if circumstances inspire a reasonable 
doubt of the sincerity of his views, he cannot with prudence be continued, for it 
is essential that there should be full confidence in him." 

INIuch was said in many of the writings of the time, and Mr. Jefferson alludes 
to it often in his letters, of the want of system of Mr. Adams's administration. 
The cause of much of this difficulty is now clearly to be traced to these cabinet 
officers, who were never really disposed to cooperate with the chief, but were 
constantly acting under an opposite influence from without. The accession of 
Messrs. Marshall and Dexter to the cabinet marks a restoration of system and 
harmonious action. 

Many years after this removal of Mr. Pickering, that gentleman, in under- 
taking to account for the act, labored to prove the existence of unworthy motives 
for it in Mr. Adams. And Mr. Gibbs, in his late partisan work, though mani- 
festly betraying his own disbelief of them, has not abstained from recording 
them. "As charges," he says, " they are at any rate matter of history." "What 



Philadelphia, 15 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I request you to transmit copies of the law for re- 
ducing the twelve regiments, which passed yesterday, to Major- 
Generals Hamilton and Pinckney, and also to the commandants 
of brigades, with orders to the major-generals to make imme- 
diate arrangements for reducing those regiments on the four- 
teenth day of June. 

I pray you, also, in concert with the Secretary of the Treasury, 
to make seasonable preparation for punctual compliance with 
the other provision of the law, by advancing the three months' 
pay to the officers and men. 



Philadelphia, 16 May, 1800. 

I transmit you a copy of the resolution of the Senate of the 
United States, passed in Congress on the 14th of this month, 
by which I am requested to instruct the proper law officers to 
commence and carry on a prosecution against William Duane, 
editor of a newspaper called the Aurora, for certain false, 
defamatory, scandalous, and malicious publications in the said 
newspaper of the 19th of February last past, tending to defame 
the Senate of the United States, and to bring them into con- 
tempt and disrepute, and to excite against them the hatred of 
the good people of the United States. In compliance with this 
request, I now instruct you, gentlemen, to commence and carry 
on the prosecution accordingly. 

With great esteem, &c. 

John Adams. 

sort of history that -n-ould be, which is made up of unfounded charges against 
public men anywhere, and especially in America, it is easy to comprehend. In 
the present instance, the whole of them are swept away by the letter of Mr. 
Stoddert, 27th October, 1811, giving many particulars respecting the causes 
assigned for the removal, and by those of Robert and of Samuel Smith, the parties 
implicated by Mr. Pickering, 30th November, 1st December, 1811, which are 
inserted in their places in the tenth volume. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, 
vol. ii. p. 353. 



Philadelphia, 17 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I thank you for your report of the 16th of this month, 
and for your early attention to the important subject of the loan. 
I have subscribed, and send you herewith, an authorization to 
borrow to the amount of the law ; but if the public exigencies 
can be satisfied with a part of it, your own public spirit of 
economy will induce you to confine yourself to such part. 

The rate of interest is a subject of great anxiety to me. When 
I recollect that I borrowed for this country near a million ster- 
ling, at a rate of interest at from four and a half to six per cent., 
or thereabout, more than fifteen years ago, when this nation had 
not two thirds of its present population, when it had a very 
feeble government, no revenue, no taxes, by barely pledging the 
faith of the people, which faith has been most punctually and 
religiously kept, I cannot but suspect that some advantage is 
taken of this government by demanding exorbitant interest. As 
Great Britain, with her immense burdens, after so long and 
wasting a war, is able to borrow at a more moderate interest, I 
entertain a hope that we may at last abate somewhat of a 
former interest. 

As I know your zeal for the interest of your country to be 
equal to my own, I have entire confidence in your exertions, 
that we may take up as little as possible of the sum, and at as 
low an interest as can be obtained. 


Philadelphia, 20 May, 1800. 

1. Among the three criminals under sentence of death, is there 
any discrimination in the essential circumstances of their cases, 
which would justify a determination to pardon or reprieve one 
or two, and execute the other ? 

2. Is the execution of one or more so indispensably demanded 
by public justice and by the security of the public peace, that 
mercy cannot be extended to all three, or any two, or one ? 


3. Will the national Constitution acquire more confidence in 
the minds of the American people by the execution than by the 
pardon of one or more of the offenders ? 

4. Is it clear beyond all reasonable doubt that the crime of 
which they stand convicted, amounts to a levying of war against 
the United States, or, in other words, to treason? 

5. Is there any evidence of a secret correspondence or com- 
bination wdth other anti-federalists of any denomination in 
other States in the Union, or in other parts of this State, to rise 
in force against the execution of the law for taxing houses, &c., 
or for opposing the commissioners in general in the execution 
of their offices ? 

6. Quo animo was this insurrection ? Was it a design of 
general resistance to all law, or any particular law ? Or was it 
particular to the place and persons? 

7. Was it any thing more than a riot, high-handed, aggra- 
vated, daring, and dangerous indeed, for the purpose of a rescue? 
This is a high crime, but can it strictly amount to treason ? 

8. Is there not great danger in establishing such a construc- 
tion of treason, as may be applied to every sudden, ignorant, 
inconsiderate heat, among a part of the people, wrought up by 
political disputes, and personal or party animosities ? 

9. Will not a career of capital executions for treason, once 
opened, without actual bloodshed or hostility against any mili- 
tary force of government, inflict a deep wound in the minds of 
the people, inflame their animosities, and make them more 
desperate in sudden heats, and thoughtless riots in elections, and 
on other occasions where political disputes run high, and intro- 
duce a more sanguinary disposition among them ? 

10. Is not the tranquillity in the western counties, since the 
insurrection there, and the subsequent submission to law, a pre- 
cedent in favor of clemency? 

11. Is there any probability that a capital execution will have 
any tendency to change the political sentiments of the people ? 

12. Will not clemency have a greater tendency to correct their 
errors ? 

13. Are not the fines and imprisonments, imposed and suffered, 
a sufficient discouragement, for the present, of such crimes ? 

John Adams. 


May not the long imprisonment of Fries, the two solemn, 
awful trials, his acknowledgment of the justice of his sentence, 
his professions of deep repentance, and promises of obedience, 
be accepted, and turned more to the advantage of government 
and the public peace, than his execution ? 


Philadelphia, 20 May, 1800. 

Having considered the questions proposed by the President 
for our consideration, we respectfully submit the following 

That the intent of the insurgents in Pennsylvania, in 1798, 
was to prevent the execution of the law, directing the valuation 
of houses and lands, and the enumeration of slaves, in the par- 
ticular district of country where they resided. That we know 
of no combination in other States, and presume that no com- 
bination, pervading the whole State of Pennsylvania, was actually 
formed. We believe, however, that if the government had not 
adopted prompt measures, the spirit of insurrection would have 
rapidly extended. 

We are of opinion that the crime committed by Fries, Heyney, 
and Getman, amounted to treason, and that no danger can arise 
to the community from the precedents already established by 
the judges upon this subject. We cannot form a certain judg- 
ment of the eflfect upon public opinion, of suffering the law 
to have its course, but we think it must be beneficial, by inspir- 
ing the well disposed with confidence in the government, and 
the malevolent and factious with terror. 

The Attorney- General and the Secretary of the Navy, how- 
ever, believe that the execution of one will be enough to show the 
power of the laws to punish, and may be enough for example, 
the great end of punishment, and that Fries deserves most to 
suffer ; because, though all are guilty, and all have forfeited 
their lives to the justice of their country, he was the most dis- 
tinguished in the commission of the crime. The Secretary of 
the Treasury perceives no good ground for any distinction in 
the three cases, and he believes that a discrimination, instead 
of being viewed as an act of mercy, would too much resemble 


a sentence against an unfortunate individual. He also believes 
that the mercy of government has been sufficiently manifested 
by the proceedings of the Attorney of the United States, and 
that the cause of humanity will be most effectually promoted 
by impressing an opinion that those who are brought to trial, 
and convicted of treason, will not be pardoned. 

Charles Lee, 
Oliver Wolcott. 
Ben. Stoddert. 

The Attorney-General and Secretary of the Navy beg leave 
to add, as their opinion, that it will be more just and more wise 
that all should suffer the sentence of the law, than that all 
should be pardoned. 

Ben. Stoddert. 
Charles Lee. 

TO C. LEE, secretary OF STATE, PRO TEM. 

Philadelphia, 21 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I received yesterday the opinion of yourself, the Se- 
cretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of the Navy, on the 
case of the prisoners under sentence of death for treason, formed, 
as I doubt not, under the full exercise of integrity and humanity. 
Nevertheless, as I differ in opinion, I must take on myself alone 
the responsibility of one more appeal to the humane and gene- 
rous natures of the American people. 

I pray you, therefore, to prepare for my signature, this morn- 
ing, a pardon for each of the criminals, John Fries, Frederic 
Heyney, and John Getman.^ 

I pray you, also, to prepare the form of a proclamation of a 
general pardon of all treasons, and conspiracies to commit 
treasons, heretofore committed in the three offending counties, 

1 " Fries, It Is said, opened a tin-ware store In Philadelphia, where, profiting 
by the custom his notoriety drew to him, he acquired a respectable fortune, and 
a respectable character." Wharton's State Trials, cVc, p. 648, note. 

For the pardon of Fries, Mr. Adams was attacked by Mr. Hamilton and his 
friends as guilty of " a virtual dereliction of the friends of the government." 
Posterity may perhaps judge that It was more wise, as well as humane, to save 
the criminal for a respectable life, selling tin-ware, than to make of him a politi- 
cal martyr, and a precedent for vindictive retribution. 


in opposition to the law laying taxes on houses, &c., that tran- 
quillity may be restored to the minds of those people, if possible. 
I have one request more; that you would consult the judge, 
and the late and present attorneys of this district, concerning the 
circumstances of guilt and punishment of those now under sen- 
tence for fines and imprisonment, and report to me a list of the 
names of such, if there are any, as may be proper objects of the 
clemency of government. 

With great esteem, I am, &c. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 22 May, 1800. 

Inclosed is a copy of a letter received this morning from 
Colonel Smith. I am at present at a loss to judge of it. Will 
you be so kind, without favor or affection, as to give me your 
candid opinion of it ? Whether his request can be granted, in 
the whole or in part, without injustice to other officers ; and 
whether it is consistent with the military ideas. I pray your 
answer as soon as possible.^ 

I am, &:c. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 26 May, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Upon the receipt of your letter of the 21st, I 
sent a copy of it to General Hamilton, and the original to Mr. 
McHenry, and asked their candid opinion of it, without favor 
or affection. From General Hamilton I have as yet received no 
answer. From Mr. McHenry I have the inclosed, which is, I 
believe, a very honest answer ; and, although I am not of his 
opinion in all points, I think there is enough in it to convince 

1 A letter to the same purport was sent to the Secretary of War. 

Mr. Hamilton's answer is found in the collection of his works, vol. v. p. 430. 
Colonel Smith had solicited to be appointed to the command of the second 
regiment of artillerists and engineers, and to be allowed the selection of a major 
and full battalion of men from his actual command, to complete the regiment. 

VOL. IX. 6 


you that it would be highly improper in me, and therefore im- 
possible, to adopt your project.^ 

I am, with affection to Mrs. Smith and Miss Caroline, sin- 
cerely yours, 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 26 May, 1800. 

Sir, — I hereby request you on the 1st of June, or whenever 
Mr. McHenry shall leave the war office, to take upon you the 
charge of that office, and I hereby invest you with full power 
and authority to exercise all the functions of secretary of the 
department of war, and charge you with all the duties and 
obhgations attached by law to that officer, until a successor 
regularly appointed and commissioned shall appear to relieve 

I am, &c. 

John Adams. 


Philadelphia, 2C May, 1800. 

Sir, — I have the honor of your direction of this day's date, 
for me to take upon myself the charge of the war office, and to 
exercise all the functions of secretary of the department of war, 
from the first day of June, or from the time Mr. McHenry shall 
leave the office, until a successor regularly appointed and com- 
missioned shall appear to relieve me ; which I shall attend to 
with great cheerfulness, but under the hope that I may be soon 
relieved from the duties enjoined me. 

I have the honor to be &c., &c. 

Ben. Stoddert. 

1 Mr. McHenry doubted the power of the President to make the appointment, 
for the reasons expressed in a former letter. Moreover, although speaking highly 
of Colonel Smith, as an officer of Infantry, he questioned the fitness of trans- 
ferring him to the command of a corps of artillery. This last argument seems 
to have decided the point. See vol. viii. pp. 632, 647. 



Philadelpliia, 20 June, 1800. 

SiRj — The itinerant life I have led^ has prevented me from 
acknowledging the receipt of your favor of May 24th till this 
time. Your sentiments are very satisfactory to me, and will be 
duly attended to. I anticipate criticism in every thing which 
relates to Colonel Smith ; but criticism, now criticized so long, I 
regard no more than " Great George's birth-day song." Colonel 
Smith served through the war with high applause of his supe- 
riors. He has served, abroad in the diplomatic corps, at home 
as marshal and supervisor, and now as commandant of a bri- 
gade. These are services of his own, not mine. His claims 
are his own. I see no reason or justice in excluding him from 
all service, w^hile his comrades are all ambassadors or generals, 
merely because he married my daughter.^ 1 am, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 11 July, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received only last night your favor of the 30th 
June. There is no part of the administration of our govern- 
ment which has given me so much discontent as the negotiation 
in the Mediterranean, our ill success in which I attribute to the 
diffidence of the agents and ministers employed in them, in 
soliciting aid from the English and the French and the Prus- 
sians. M. D'Engestrom has too much reason to reproach us, 

1 Mr. Adams had been on a visit to Washington, the proposed seat of govern- 

2 Colonel Smith was soon afterwards appointed surveyor and inspector for 
the port of New York. The propriety of embracing or of excluding relatives 
in the consideration of appointments to office, opens questions upon which per- 
sons may honestly differ in opinion. One rule has been adopted by some, and 
another by others, of the Presidents. Mr. Adams followed one, and his son the 
other. There can be no doubt in cases of the selection of unworthy or incom- 
petent persons. And every President who assumes the responsibility of appoint- 
ing a relation, subjects the fitness of his choice to a severe scrutiny. Considered 
in this light, Mr. Adams is responsible for the transfer of his son, John Quincy 
Adams, from one diplomatic mission to another, for the appointments given to 
Colonel Smith, and I'or the selection of his wife's nephew, William Crauch, to be 
chief justice of the Circuit Court of the district of Columbia. 


or to commiserate us, for paying the triple of the sums given hy 
Sweden and Denmark. As, however, the promises of the United 
States, although made to their hurt, ought to be fulfilled with 
good faith, I know not how far we can accede to the proposition 
of uniting with Sweden and Denmark, or appointing, in concert 
with them and others, convoys for their and our trade. Convoys 
for our own trade I suppose we may appoint at any time, and 
in any seas, to protect our commerce, according to our treaties 
and the law of nations. If, indeed, the Barbary powers, or any 
of them, should break their treaties with us, and recommence 
hostilities on our trade, we may then be at liberty to make any 
reasonable arrangement with Sweden or Denmark. You will 
be at no loss to instruct Mr. Adams to give a polite and respect- 
ful answer to Mr. D'Engestrom, according to these principles, 
if you approve them.i 


Quincy, 23 July, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received this morning your favor of the 12th, 
and thank you for the summary of the stations and destinations 
of the navy. At the same time I received your other letter of 
the same date, and have read all its inclosures, which I return 
with this. Nothing affects me so much as to see complaints 
against officers who have distinguished themselves by their 
vigilance, activity, and bravery in the service, as Maley has 
done; but the complaints must not be rejected without inquiry. 
I leave this business to your wisdom, as well as the other com- 
plaints against other officers. 

The transgression of the British captain in opening the letters 
of Dr. Stevens to Captain Talbot, can be redressed only by a 
representation to the court of St. James, where so many circum- 
stances of justification, or excuse, or palliation will occur, that I 
doubt whether it is expedient to take any trouble about it. If 
you think otherwise, you may furnish the Secretary of State 
with copies, and he may instruct Mr. King to acquaint the 

1 This proposition to unite with Sweden and Denmark in keeping a naval 
force in the Mediterranean for the protection of the trade of the three nations, 
had been made by Count d'Engestrom, through Mr. J. Q. Adams, at Berlin. 


ministry with them. It is not worth while to make any vehe- 
ment representation about it.^ 

With great respect, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 25 July, 1800. 

I received last night, and read with great pleasure, your letter 
of the 16th of July. I am very much pleased with your plan 
for executing the existing laws for the instruction of the artil- 
lerists and engineers. I am very ready to appoint the whole 
number of cadets provided for by law, namely, two for each 
company, or sixty-four in all, as soon as proper candidates 
present themselves ; and the whole of the four teachers and two 
engineers, if you are prepared to recommend suitable persons. 
It is my desire that you take the earliest measures for providing 
all the necessary books, instruments, and apparatus, authorized 
by law, for the use and benefit of the artillerists and engineers. 
I think with you that it will be prudent to begin by appointing 
two teachers and an engineer, and I pray you to make inquiry for 
proper characters, and to take measures to induce young men 
to enter the service as cadets, collect them together, and form 
a regular school, and cause the battalions to be instructed in 
rotation at some regular stations. You may assure the cadets, 
that, in future, officers will be taken from the most deserving of 
their members, if any should be found fit for an appointment. 

1 agree with the Secretary of the Navy, that it would be 
highly useful to the navy, that midshipmen be admitted into 
the school by courtesy. Yet there ovight to be a school on board 
every frigate. Thirty persons have been taught navigation, and 
other sciences connected with the naval service, on board the 
Boston during her first cruise. 

1 wish you may easily find teachers. What think you of 
Captain Barron for one ? Every one speaks well of Mr. Bureau 
de Pusy. But I have an invincible aversion to the appoint- 

' Mr. Stoddert had expressed the opinion that this act of the British Captain 
" appeared one of those things, difficult to condemn, and still more difficult to 
justify" " His letters did not ehow him to be a man of much understandinor." 

6* E 


ment of foreigners, if it can be avoided. It mortifies the honest 
pride of our officers, and damps their ardor and ambition. I 
had rather appoint the teachers, and form the schools, and take 
time to consider of an engineer.^ 


Quincy, 30 July, 1800. 

I have received your favor of the 21st, and have read the 
respectable recommendations inclosed, in favor of Mr. Lloyd 
Beal and Mr. Bent Bowlings to be marshal of Maryland. I 
return all these letters to you in this. With the advantages of 
Mr. Thomas Chase, in the opportunity to consult his father and 
Mr. Martin, I still think that his appointment is as likely to 
benefit the public as that of any of the respectable candidates 
would be. Your knowledge of persons, characters, and circum- 
stances, are so much better than mine, and my confidence in 
your judgment and impartiality so entire, that I pray you, if 
Mr. Chase should not appear the most eligible candidate to you, 
that you would give the commission to him whom you may 


Quincy, 31 July, 1800. 

In the night of the 29th, your favor of the 21st was left at 
my house. Mr. King's letters shall be soon considered. At 
present 1 shall confine myself to the despatch from our envoys 
in France. The impression made upon me by these communi- 
cations is the same with that which they appear by your letter 
to have made on you. There are not sufficient grounds on 
which to form any decisive opinion of the result of the mission. 
But there are reasons to conjecture that the French government 
may be inclined to explore all the resources of their diplomatic 
skill, to protract the negotiation. The campaign in Europe may 
have some weight, but the progress of the election in America 

1 This is the foundation of the military academy at West Point. 


may have much more. There is reason to believe that the 
communications between the friends of France in Europe and 
America are more frequent and constant, as well as more secret, 
than ours; and there is no reason to doubt that the French 
government is flattered with full assurances of a change at the 
next election, which will be more favorable to their views. 
McNeil, it appears, was arrived at Havre the latter part of May. 
Our envoys will probably insist on definitive and categorical 
answers, and come home, according to their instructions, either 
with or without a treaty. On this supposition, we need say no 
more upon this subject. 

Another supposition is, however, possible, and, in order to 
guard against that, I shall propose to your consideration, and 
that of the heads of department, the propriety of writing to our 
envoys, by the way of Holland, and England or Hamburg, or 
any other more expeditious and certain conveyance. The ques- 
tion is, what we shall write. There are but two points, which 
appear to me to deserve a further attention, and indeed their 
present instructions are sufficient upon these heads. I always 
expected that our envoys would be hard pressed to revive the 
old treaty, to save its anteriority, as they say they shall be. I 
cannot see, however, that we can relax the instruction on that 
head. Perhaps it may be necessary to repeat and confirm it. 
The other point relates to a discontinuance of our naval protec- 
tion of our commerce, and to opening our commerce with 
France. But we have no official or other authentic information 
that the French have done any thing to justify or excuse us in 
the smallest relaxation. And, indeed, nothing they can do, 
short of a treaty, would justify me in taking one step. I there- 
fore think that our envoys may be instructed to be as explicit 
as decency and delicacy will admit, in rejecting all propositions 
of the kind. 

I return you all the papers relative to this subject. 


Quincy, 31 July, 1800. 

Last night the consul of Spain, Mr. Stoughton, came out to 
Quincy upon the important errand of delivering to me in my 


own hand, according to his own account of his orders, the 
inclosed letter, demanding of the government a fulfilment of the 
5th article of our treaty with Spain.^ Although I see no suffi- 
cient reason in this case for deviating from the ordinary course 
of business, I shall take no exception to this proceeding on that 
account, but I desire you to communicate this letter to the Se- 
cretary at "War, and concert with him the proper measures to be 
taken. Orders, I think, should be sent to Mr. Hawkins and to 
General Wilkinson, to employ every means in their power to 
preserve the good faith according to the stipulation in this 5th 
article of the treaty with Spain. And I also desire you would 
write a civil and respectful answer to this letter of the Chevalier, 
still the minister of the King of Spain, assuring him of the 
sincere friendship of the government, for the Spanish govern- 
ment and nation, and of our determination to fulfil with perfect 
good faith the stipulations in the treaty, and informing him that 
orders have been given, or shall be immediately given, to the 
officers of the United States, civil or military, to take all the 
measures in their power for that purpose. 


Quincy, 1 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have twice read the despatch of Mr. King, 
No. 67, inclosed in your favor of the 21st of July. I am glad 
to see that Lord Grenville expressed his opinion, that the new 
board ought to proceed in a different manner from their prede- 
cessors, by deciding cases singly, one after another, instead of 
attempting to decide by general resolves and in classes. 

The idea of paying a gross sum to the British government in 
lieu of, and in satisfaction for, the claims of the British creditors, 
seems to me to merit attentio)i and mature deliberation. There 
Avill be great difficulties attending it, no doubt. How can we 
form an estimate that will satisfy the American government 
and the British government ? How shall the claims of British 
creditors be extinguished or barred from recovery in our courts 

1 For the protection of the Spanish territory from the incursions of the In- 


of law ? Shall the claim of the creditor be transferred to our 
government, and how ? or shall it be a total extinguishment of 
debt and credit between the parties ? How will the British 
government apportion the sum among the British creditors ? 
This, however, is their affair. You ask an important question, 
whether such an arrangement can afford just cause of discon- 
tent to France. But I think it must be answered in the nega- 
tive. Our citizens are in debt to British subjects. We surely 
have a right to pay our honest debts in the manner least incon- 
venient to ourselves, and no foreign power has any thing to do 
with it. I think I should not hesitate on this account. The 
difficulty of agi-eeing upon a sum is the greatest; but I am 
inclined to think this may be overcome. If nothing of this kind 
can be agreed on, and the British government refuse all explana- 
tions, I think that good faith will oblige us to try another board ; 
and I have so little objection to the modes of appointing a new 
board, suggested to Mr. King by our government or by the 
British government, that I am content to leave it to Mr. King 
to do the best he can. I shall keep the copy of Mr. King's des- 
patch. No. 67, presuming that you have the original. 


Quincy, 2 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Last night I received your favor of the 24th 
of July. The letter to Mr. Adams, dated the 24th of July, I 
have read, and as I see no reason to desire any alteration in it, 
I shall give it to General Lincoln, the collector at Boston, to 
be by him sent to Hamburg or Amsterdam by the first good 
opportunity.^ The duplicate and triplicate you may send by 
such opportunities as may be presented to you. Mr. King's 
despatches, Nos. 71 and 72, I have read, and, if you think proper, 
you may authorize Mr. King, if he thinks it proper, to communi- 
cate to the court, in any manner he thinks most decent, the 

1 Mr. Marshall had expressed a desire that it should take this course. But 
he says ; — 

" I transmit it to you, because there are in it some sentiments further than 
those contained in your letter. Should you wish any change, be pleased to note 
it, and return the letter." 


congratulations of his government, and, if he pleases, of the 
President, on the King's fortunate escape from the attempt of 
an assassin. 

The mighty bubble, it seems, is burst, of a projected combi- 
nation of all the north of Europe against France. This mighty 
design, which was held up in terror before my eyes to intimidate 
me from sending envoys to France, is evaporated in smoke. 
Indeed, I never could hear it urged against the mission to France 
without laughter. 

The jewels for Tunis are a more serious object. When I read 
over all the despatches from the Barbary States, I remember 
your predecessor consulted me concerning these jewels. His 
opinion was, that it was best to make the present, rather than to 
hazard a rupture. After the expenditure of such great sums, I 
thought with him that it would be imprudent to hazard an 
interruption of the peace on account of these jewels, and I 
presume he w^rote to Mr. Eaton or Mr. Smith accordingly. I 
am still of the same opinion. 

I see no objection against requesting Mr. Smith, and all the 
consuls in the Barbary States, to keep Mr, King informed of the 
general state of affairs. It will be of service to the public that 
our minister at London should know as much information as 
possible concerning our affairs in those countries. I return Mr. 
King's despatches, 71 and 72. 


Quincy, 3 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I knoAV not whether the inclosed letter from 
Lady Catherine Duer has not excited too much tenderness in 
my feelings, but I cannot refrain from inclosing it to you, and 
recommending it to your serious consideration. If it is possible, 
without material injury to the discipline of the navy, to accept 
of the resignation of this unhappy youth, I pray you to do it. 
I had almost said that this letter, at first reading, excited as 
much of a temporary indignation against the captain, for suffer- 
ing these dinners at St. Kitts, as it has of a permanent pity for 
an unfortunate family. Captain Little has returned without 


the loss of a man by sickness, and with a ship in perfect health, 
only by keeping always at sea. 


Quincy, 6 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — In answer to your letter of the 26th of July, I have 
to inform you that although you omitted to inclose to me the 
letter from John Cowper, Esquire, as you intended, yet as there 
are no candidates for the office, that I know of, that ought to 
excite any hesitation, I am well satisfied that you should apply 
to the Secretary of State for commissions for Mr. Claude 
Thompson, to be collector of the customs, for the district of 
Brunswick in Georgia, and inspector of the revenue for said 
port, provided you are satisfied with Mr. Cowper's recommend- 

To show you the passions that are continually excited by the 
appointments and dismissions we are so often obliged to make, 
I inclose a letter I received last night from Mr. Jabez Bowen 
at Augusta. Such are the reproaches to which the most up- 
right actions of our lives are liable I^ 


Quincy, 7 August, 1800. 

I have just received your favor of July 29th. The merit of 
Judge Chase, of which I have been a witness at times for six 
and twenty years, are very great in my estimation, and if his 
sons are as well qualified as others, it is quite consistent with 
my principles to consider the sacrifices and services of a father 

1 Just at this time, the officer to whom this letter was addressed, was engaging 
in the preparation of the materials for the use of Mr. Hamilton in the deliberate 
attack he was meditating upon Mr. Adams. Mr. Hamilton's letter inviting him 
to execute this task, and his reply, disclose the motives of the actors not less 
than their sense of the moral obstacles in their way. They also establish the 
fact that the shape of the attack was the result of cool and concerted hostility, 
rather than the impulse of self-defence under which it is declared to have been 
made. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 397, 416. 


in weighing the pretensions of a son. The old gentleman will 
not last very long, and it can hardly be called accumulating 
offices in a family to appoint the son of a judge of the United 
States marshal of a particular State. However, I have so 
much deference for the opinion of Mr. Stoddert, especially in an 
appointment in his own State, that I will wave my own incli- 
nation in favor of his judgment, and consent to the appointment 
of Major David Hopkins. 


Quincy, 7 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I inclose to you a letter from Governor Trum- 
bull, of Connecticut, a petition for a pardon from Isaac Wil- 
liams, in prison at Hartford, for privateering under French 
colors. His petition is seconded by a number of very respect- 
able people. I inclose many other papers relative to the subject, 
put into my hands yesterday by a young gentleman from Nor- 
wich, his nephew. The man's generosity to American prisoners, 
his refusal to act, and resigning his command, when he was 
ordered to capture American vessels, his present poverty and 
great distress, are arguments in favor of a pardon, and I own I 
feel somewhat inclined to grant it. But I will not venture on 
that measure without your advice and that of your colleagues. 
I pray you to take the opinions of the heads of department 
upon these papers, and if they advise to a pardon, you may 
send me one.^ 

With high esteem, &c. 

John Adams. 

1 The trial of Isaac Williams is found in Wharton's State Trials, ^c, pp. 652- 
658, with a carefully prepared note touching the difficult question of expatria- 
tion, which can scarcely yet be pronounced settled in America. Mr. Marshall, 
in his reply to the above letter, dated the 16th, says ; — 

" The petition of Isaac Williams, with the accompanying documents, was, in 
conformity with your direction, laid before the heads of clepartment, and by their 
unanimous opinion the fines are remitted. I have inclosed his pardon to the 
marshal for the district of Connecticut." 



Quincy, 11 August, 1800. 

On Saturday I received your favor of the 26th ultimo. The 
German letter proposing to introduce into this country a com- 
pany of schoolmasters, painters, poets, &c., all of them disciples 
of Mr. Thomas Paine, will require no answer. I had rather 
countenance the introduction of Ariel and Caliban, with a troop 
of spirits the most mischievous from fairy land. The direction 
to deliver the Sandwich^ to the Spanish minister, on the requi- 
sition of the King of Spain, as the case is stated, no doubt 
accurately, in your letter, I believe was right ; and it was better 
to do it promptly, than to wait for my particular orders in a case 
so plain. Respecting Bowles, I wrote you on the 31st of July, 
that I thought General Wilkinson and Mr. Hawkins should be 
written to. I now add that I think the governors of Georgia, 
Tennessee, and the Mississippi territory should be written to, 
to employ all the means in their power to preserve the good 
faith of the United States, according to the fifth article of the 
treaty with Spain. How far it will be proper to order General 
Wilkinson to cooperate with the Spanish government or mili- 
tary forces, it will be proper for the heads of department to 
consider. I can see no objection against ordering them to join 
in an expedition against Bowles, wherever he may be, in concert 
with the Spanish forces, at their request. The only danger 
would arise from misunderstandings and disagreements between 
the officers or men. Jn my letter of the 31st ultimo I also 
requested you to give a civil answer to the Chevalier, assuring 
him of our sincere friendship for the Spanish government and 
nation, and of our resolution to fulfil the treaty with good faith. 
This letter I hope you received. 

On the 1st of August I wrote you on the subject of a sum in 
gross to be paid, instead of going through all the chicanery, 
which may be practicable under the treaty .^ I most perfectly 
agree with you and the heads of department, that the proposi- 
tion merits serious attention. My only objection to it is one 
that cannot be seriously mentioned. I am afraid that, as soon 

' A vessel captured by Captain Talbot in a Spanish port of St. Domingo. 
2 The claims of British subjects under the sixth article of the British treaty. 

VOL. IX. 7 


as this point of dispute is removed, such is their habitual de- 
light in wrangling with us, they will invent some other. Some 
pretext or other of venting their spleen and ill humor against 
us they will always find. This, however, cannot be gravely 
urged as a reason against settling this quarrel. I am willing 
you should write to Mr. King instructions on this head. Take 
the opinions, however, of the heads of department on the letter, 
before you send it. If they are unanimous with you for going 
as far as a million, in the latitude to be given to Mr. King in 
the negotiation, I will agree to it.^ 


Quincy, 12 August, 1800. 
Dear Sir, — A letter from my old friend Trumbull is always 
so cheering a cordial to my spirits, that I could almost rejoice 
in the cause which produced yours of the 6th. The gentleman 
you allude to did, it is true, make me a visit at Ncav Haven. 
It was not unexpected, for it was not the first or second mark 
of attention that I have received from him, at the same place. 
On this occasion his deportment was polite, and his conversation 
easy, sensible, and agreeable. I understood from him, what I 
well knew before and always expected, that there had been 
some uneasiness and some severe criticisms in Connecticut on 
account of the late removal of the late Secretary of State ; but 
he mentioned no names, nor alluded to persons or places. No 
such insinuations concerning Hartford, as you have heard, 
escaped his lips.^ I had for many years had it in contempla- 
tion to take the road of the sea coast, and I believe that for 

1 Mr. Marshall in his reply, dated the 23d, writes ; — 

" I understand your opinion to be that the explanatory articles, if attainable, 
are preferred to any other mode of accommodating the differences which pro- 
duced the dissolution of the board lately sitting at Philadelphia; and that the 
most eligible mode is the substitution of a sum in gross as a compensation for 
the claims of the creditors of the United States. On this idea the letter to 
Mr. King is drawn. For many reasons I am myself decidedly of the same 
opinion, and I believe there is with respect to it no difference among the heads 
of department." 

2 Mr. Trumbull had written to know whether the stories in circulation were 
true, that Mr. Adams had been induced to change his course from Hartford to 
New London by reason of the representations made by the gentleman referred 


many years I have never stopped at New Haven, without mak- 
ing some inquiries concerning the roads and inns. The gentle- 
man in question had just returned from New London, and 
assured me the road was good, the accommodations at the 
public houses not bad, and the passage of the ferry neither 
dangerous nor inconvenient to any but the ferrymen. He 
added, that he had heard people at several places on that route 
observe, that I had never seen it, that they wished to see me 
that way, and that the distance to my own house in Quincy 
was ten or twelve miles less, than the other. An economy of 
a dozen miles to an old man, who was already weary with a 
journey of six or seven hundred miles, was an object of atten- 
tion, and that way I took. I never entertained nor conceived a 
suspicion, that I should not meet the same cordial reception at 
Hartford as usual. There was some conversation concerning 
constitutions and administration, rather free, but very cool and 
decent, without any personal or party allusions, which gave me 
an opinion of the correctness of his judgment, which I had not 
before. But as these were private conversations, I do not think 
it necessary, if it could be justifiable, to mention them. Who 
is it says, in the Old Testament, I will go out and be a lying 
spirit among them ? ^ 

With affectionate esteem, dear Sir, your much pained friend, 

John Adams. 

to, of the hostility felt to him at the former place. la this connection Mr. T. 
says; — 

" In fact, had you given Hartford the honor of a visit, you would have been 
met from all parties with more than usual marks of attention and respect. Many 
were desirous of convincing you that they did not consider the President's exer- 
tion of his constitutional right of displacing a subordinate executive officer, as a 
matter of national concern ; that wlule they felt no dissatisfaction at the conduct 
of administration in public and consequential measures, no minute clamors could 
shake their confidence ; and that of the propriety or necessity of the measure, 
they pretended not at that time to be possessed of the evidence, or the right, 
which could enable them to judge or decide." 

- Mr. Adams was not fated to have his own measure meted to him by others. 
A specimen of the manner in which he was treated, in this very instance, is dis- 
closed in a letter of Chauncey Goodrich to Oliver AVolcott, still Secretary of the 
Treasury. The writer warns his correspondent, that the person to whom this 
letter is addressed, described as " our friend Trumbull, remains as firmly as ever 
attached to his old master." Noah Webster, too, is not well affected to the 
cabal. Gibbs's Memoirs of the Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 411. 



Quincy, 13 August, 1800. 
Dear Sir, — Last night I received your favor of the 4th, and 
have read the inclosures, all which I return to you. I will not 
object to the appointment of Mr. Foncin as one of the three. 
But I shall not appoint him first as long as Barron lives. If 
you can find another American mathematician better than 
Barron, it is well ; if not, we will appoint him first teacher. I 
am well satisfied with the recommendation of Colonel David 
Vance and willing to appoint him, but I wish you to ask the 
opinion of Mr. Wolcott. In all business which involves expense, 
I love to consult the Secretary of the Treasviry. My opinion 
is clear in favor of one commissioner rather than three,i and 
Vance will be enough. I need say nothing about Bloody 
Fellow,2 Mr. McHenry,^ or Mr. Sevier, if we have but one. 
Would it be worth while to write to Presidents Willard, Dwiffht, 
Smith, Ewing, &c., to inquire after young ruathematicians ? 

I am, Sir, with cordial esteem, 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 13 August, 1800. 
hi answer to yours of the 2d, I have agreed to the appoint- 
ment of Major David Hopkins to be marshal of Maryland, 
according to the advice of Mr. Stoddert, although it was a 
great disappointment and mortification to me to lose the only 
opportunity I shall ever have of testifying to the world the 
high opinion I have of the merits of a great magistrate by the 

^ To negotiate with the Southern Indians for some land. 

2 An Indian chief, whose evidence had been quoted in this case ajrainst Mr. 

3 It is a singular fact that Mr. McHenry's name does not appear in Mr. Dex- 
ter's letter, among those recommended. The idea of giving him an appointment, 
mentioned by Mr. Wolcott as at first entertained by the President, seems to 
have been still cherished. In the meantime that gentleman was stimulating Mr. 
Wolcott to buckle on his armor, and complaining of everybody in any way 
attached to Mr. Adams. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 408. 


appointment of his son to an office for which he is fully quali- 
fied and accomplished.^ 

I agree with you that a letter should be written to the govern- 
ment of Guadaloupe, remonstrating against the treatment of 
Daniel Tripe and another sailor, and holding up the idea of 
retaliation. I agree, too, that complaints should be made 
through ]Vlr. Humphreys to the Spanish court, of the violation 
of their treaty in the case of Gregory and Pickard of Boston. 
I return Mr. Sitgreaves's letter received in yours of August 2d. 


Quincy, 14 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received but last night your favor of the 4th. 
I have read the papers inclosed. 1. The letter from Mr. Robert 
Wain. 2. The letter from Gid. Hill Wells. 3. The represent- 
ation of three masters of vessels, Thomas Choate, Robert 
Forrest, and Knowles Adams, relative to the consulate of 
Madeira. If there is a necessity of removing Mr. John Marsden 
Pintard, a native American and an old consul, why should 
we appoint a foreigner in his stead ? Among the number of 
applications for consulates, cannot we find an American capable 
and worthy of the trust? Mr. Lamar is a partner in a respect- 
able house, but it is said to be an English, or rather a Scotch 
house. Why should we take the bread out of the mouths of 
our own children and give it to strangers ? We do so much 
of this in the army, navy, and especially in the consulships 
abroad, that it frequently gives me great anxiety. If, however, 
you know of no American fit for it, who would be glad of it, I 
shall consent to your giving the commission to Mr. Lamar, for 
it seems to me, from these last representations, there is a neces- 
sity of removing Mr. Pintard. 


1 Judge Samuel Chase. It is curious to notice the bitterness of the feeling 
indulged in by Mr. McIIenry against him and his friends on account of their 
preference of Mr. Adams to Mr. Pinckney. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, 
vol. ii. pp.408, 419. 

The omission to make this appointment was supplied in another form twenty- 
seven vears afterwards by his son John Quincy Adams, whilst President. 



Quincy, 26 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received last night your letter of the 16th. I 
am well satisfied with all its contents. The only thing which 
requires any observation from me, is the proposed instruction to 
Mr. King. As far as I am able to form a conjecture, five mil- 
lions of dollars are more than sufficient, provided the British 
creditors are left at liberty to prosecute in our courts, and recover 
all the debts which are now recoverable. I agree, however, 
with the heads of department, that it is better to engage to pay 
by instalments, or otherwise, as may be agreed, the whole sum, 
than be puzzled and teased wdth a new board and two or three 
years of incessant wrangles. I should be for instructing Mr. 
King to obtain the lowest sum possible, but to go as far 
as five millions rather than fail. J wish Mr. King may be 
furnished with as many reasons as can be thought of for redu- 
cing the sum. I pray you to prepare a letter to Mr. King as 
soon as possible ; and as we are all so well agreed in all the 
principles, I do not think it necessary to transmit it to me. 
Lay it before the heads of department, and if they approve of 
it, I certainly shall not disapprove it, and you may send it, if 
opportunity occurs, without further advice from me. Whether 
it will be advisable to stipulate for a transfer to the United 
States of such claims as the British government shall think fit 
to discharge in consequence of this arrangement, I wish you to 
consider. I believe it will occasion more trouble, and expense 
too, than profit. 


Quincy, 27 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Inclosed is a letter from Mr. John*C. Jones, of 
Boston, recommending Captain Joseph Coffin Boyd, to fill the 
place of Colonel Lunt. Also a letter from Richard Hunnewell, 
requesting the office for himself. Thus you see we have an 
ample choice of candidates. Fosdick, Titcomb, Mayo, Boyd, 
and Hunnewell, all well qualified, and recommended by very 
respectable men. The last, however, appears to me to have 


the best pretensions, though supported by no recommendations. 
These he might easily obtain, but I think it unnecessary. This 
gentleman resigned the office of a sheriff of a county, worth fif- 
teen hundred dollars a year, for the sake of an appointment in 
the late army worth three hundred dollars less. He was lieute- 
nant-colonel commandant of the fifteenth regiment, in the late 
brigade at Oxford. The public seems to be under some obliga- 
tion to these gentlemen, who were so suddenly turned adrift. 
Hunnewell, though very young, was an officer in the army last 
war, and from his manners, appearance, education, and accom- 
plishments, as well as from the circumstances before mentioned, 
I think we cannot do better than to appoint him. If you are of 
the same opinion, you may send him a commission ; but if you 
are aware of any objection or of any reason for preferring 
any other candidate, I pray you to let me know it, before any 
appointment is made. 

"With great esteem. 


Quincy, 27 August, 1800. 
Sir, — I have received your favor of the 16th, and thank you 
for the information it contains.^ A very little reflection, I think, 
must convince a gentleman of your information, that it would 
be altogether improper for me to enter into any conversation 
or correspondence relative to the changes in administration. 
If a President of the United States has not authority enough 
to change his own secretaries, he is no longer fit for his office. 
If he must enter into a controversy in pamphlets and news- 
papers, in vindication of his measures, he would have employ- 
ment enough for his whole life, and must neglect the duties and 
business of his station. Let those who have renounced, all of a 
sudden, that system of neutrality for which they contended for 
ten years, justify themselves, if they can. 

I am, Su-, very respectfully, 

John Adams. 

' Mr. Bidwell had written a letter, requesting an explanation of the grounds 
of dismission of Mr. Pickering, "not for his own satisfaction," he said, "but for 
the sake of counteracting injurious impressions." 



Quincy, 30 August, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received last night your favor of the 23d. My 
ideas are perfectly conformable to yours in your instructions to 
Mr. King, as you state them to me. The explanatory articles, 
if attainable, are preferable to any other mode. The next most 
eligible is the substitution of a sum in gross, that sum to be as 
small as can be agreed to, or will be agreed to, by the British 
government ; but to agree to five millions of dollars, rather than 
fail of explanations and substitution both, and be compelled to 
agree to a new board, and all their delays and altercations. 

The proposed letters to the governors of Georgia, Tennessee, 
and Mississippi, will, I presume, be unnecessary.^ Mr. King's 
letter of the 5th of July is a melancholy picture of Britain. 
Alas! how different from that held up to view in this country, 
twelve months ago, to frighten me from sending to France ! 
However, Mr. King is somewhat of a croaker at times. He is 
apt to be depressed by what he thinks a train of unfortunate 
events. There is enough, however, of likeness in his drawing 
to give great spirits and a high tone to the French. It will be 
our destiny, for what I know, republicans as we are, to fight the 
French republic alone. I cannot account for the long delay of 
our envoys. We cannot depart from our honor, nor violate our 
faith, to please the heroic consul.^ 


Quincy, 4 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have received your favor of August 25th. I 
am much of your opinion, that we ought not to be surprised, 
if we see our envoys in the course of a few weeks or days, 
without a treaty. Nor should I be surprised, if they should be 
loaded with professions and protestations of love, to serve as a 
substitute for a treaty. The state of things will be so critical, 

1 To request their aid in keeping the peace among the Indians on the Spanish 

^ Bonaparte. 


that the government ought to be prepared to take a decided 
part. Questions of consequence will arise, and, among others, 
whether the President ought not at the opening of the session 
to recommend to Congress an immediate and general declara- 
tion of war against the French republic. Congress has already, 
in my judgment, as well as in the opinion of the judges at 
Philadelphia, declared war within the meaning of the Constitu- 
tion against that republic, under certain restrictions and limita- 
tions. If war in any degree is to be continued, it is a serious 
question whether it will not be better to take off all the restric- 
tions and limitations. We have had wonderful proofs that the 
public mind cannot be held in a state of suspense. The public 
opinion, it seems, must be always a decided one, whether in the 
right or not. We shall be tortured with a perpetual conflict of 
parties, and new and strange ones will continually rise up, until 
we have either peace or war. The question proposed by you 
is of great magnitude. I pretend not to have determined either, 
in my own mind ; but I wish the heads of department to turn 
their thoughts to the subject, and view it in all its lights.^ 

The despatches from the Isle of France are unexpected. 
Four or five parties have in succession had the predominance 
in that island, and the old governor has gone along with each 
in its turn. We ought to be cautious on that business. I 
should prefer Mr. Lamar, so strongly recommended, to any 
Spaniard or Madeira man. If you can find a sound native 
American, well qualified, appoint him ; if not, I will agree to 
Mr. Lamar. I will return the papers by a future opportunity. 

1 Mr. Marshall, in his letter, says : — 

"The state of the negotiation on the 17th of May, considered in connection 
with the subsequent military operations of the armies, and with the impression 
which will probably be made by the New York election, gives the appearance of 
truth to the intelligence in the papers from St. Sebastian's. We ought not to be 
surprised, if we see our envoys in the course of the next month, without a treaty. 
This pi'oduces a critical state of things, which ought to be contemplated in time. 
The question, whether hostilities against France, with the exception of their 
West India privateers, ought to be continued, if on their part a change of con- 
duct shall be manifest, is of serious and interesting magnitude, and is to be viewed 
in a variety of aspects." 

Mr. Wolcott's tone on this subject may be gathered from his very remarkable 
letter of the 3d September to Alexander Hamilton. Gibbs's Memoirs of the 
Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 417. 



Quincy, 5 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I hope, as you do, that the resistance to the 
execution of the judgment of the courts of the United States 
in Kentucky, as represented by Judge Harry Innes, exists no 
longer. I return you all the papers. 

Mountflorence's information was, that our envoys " were ready 
to depart for Havre de Grace, where they intended to embark 
for the Hague." This was, probably, given out by the French 
to conceal something from the public. What that something 
was, you may conjecture as well as I. They would not be 
anxious to conceal settlement to mutual satisfaction.^ 

I agree with you that very serious, though friendly remon- 
strances ought to be made to Spain. I can even go as far as 
you, and demand compensation for every American vessel con- 
demned by the French consular courts in the dominions of 
Spain. I return all the papers relative to this subject. 


Quincy, 9 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Mr. Stevens's letter, inclosed in yours of the 
30th, seems to require a proclamation to open the trade between 
the United States and the ports of St. Domingo, which were 
lately in the possession of Rigaud, and I am ready to agree to 
it whenever you and the heads of department shall be satisfied. 

Mr. Mitchell, of Charleston, promises great things, and he 
may be able to perform them, for any thing I know. But I 
have no intimation that Mr. Boudinot will resign, and I can 
promise no office beforehand. It has been the constant usage, 
now twelve years, for the President to answer no letters of soli- 
citation or recommendation for office. I know of no coins of 
gold better executed than our eagles, nor of sUver than our dol- 
lars. The motto of the Hotel de Valentinois, in which I lived 
at Passy, was, " se sta bene, non si muove." " If you stand 

1 This was a false report. Mr. Wolcott's hopes peep even through his doubts. 
See his letter to J. McHenry. Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 410. 


well, stand still." The epitaph, " stava ben, ma por stare meg- 
lio, sto qui," "I was well, but by taking too much physic to 
be better, lo hei-e I lie," is a good admonition. I will not be 
answerable for the correctness of my Italian, but you see I have 
an idle morning, or I should not wTite you this common-place. 
I return you Mr. Humphreys's letter, and inclose that of Mr. 
John H. Mitchell, and that of Mr. Stevens. 

With sincere regard, &c. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 10 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I thank you for your favor of the 4th. Porcu- 
pine's gazette, and Fenno's gazette, from the moment of the 
mission to France, aided, countenanced, and encouraged by 
soi-disant Federalists in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, 
have done more to shuffle the cards into the hands of the jacobin 
leaders, than all the acts of administration, and all the policy of 
opposition, from the commencement of the government. After 
the house of representatives had unequivocally and unanimously 
applauded that measure, as they did in their address in answer 
to the speech at the opening of the last session of Congress, it 
is arrogance, presumption, and inconsistency, without a parallel, 
in any to say, as they continue to do, in the newspapers, that 
the Federalists disapprove it. The jacobins infer from this 
disapprobation designs in such Federalists, which they are not 
prepared to avow. These Federalists may yet have their fill at 
fighting. They may see our envoys without peace ; and if they 
do, what has been lost ? Certainly nothing, unless it be the 
intlvience of some of the Federalists by their own imprudent 
and disorganizing opposition and clamor. Much time has been 
gained. If the election of a Federal President is lost by it, they 
who performed the exploit will be the greatest losers. They 
must take the consequences. They will attempt to throw the 
blame of it upon me, but they will not succeed. They have 
recorded their own intemperance and indiscretion in characters 
too legible and too public. For myself, age, infirmities, family 
misfortunes, have conspired with the unreasonable conduct of 


jacobins and insolent Federalists, to make me too indifferent to 
whatever can happen. 

I am, as ever, your affectionate friend. 

John Adams. 


Quincy, 18 September, 1800. 

I received last night, and have read this morning, the copy 
of your letter to Mr. King, inclosed in your favor of the 9th. 
I know not how the subject could have been better digested. ^ 

An idea has occurred to me, which I wish you would con- 
sider. Ought not something to be said to Mr. King about the 
other board ? That, I mean, in London.^ We understand it, 
no doubt, all along, that those commissioners are to proceed, 
and their awards are to be paid. But should not something be 
expressed concerning it, in this new arrangement, whether by 
explanations or a composition for a gross sum? Can it be 
stipulated that the gross sum, if that should be accepted, should 
be paid, in whole or in part, to American claimants before the 
board in London, in satisfaction of awards in their favor? 
These, perhaps, would loan the money to government, and 
receive certificates on interest, as the merchants have for ships. 
I only hint the thing for consideration ; am not much satisfied 
with it. 


Quiney, 27 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received yesterday the inclosed letter, sent up 
from Boston, with several others, and large packets which appear 
to be only newspapers. This is a duplicate of No. 244, from 
Mr. Humphreys at Madrid, dated 29th July and August 1st. 
Talleyrand's reply to the French minister says : " In the present 
state of the negotiation between the United States and France, 
you may inform Mr. Humphreys that he shall not long have 
occasion to complain of any more robberies [brigandages) com- 

' This clear and statesmanlike despatch proposed the settlement of the ques- 
tions under the sixth article of the British treaty by the payment of a gross sum. 
2 That constituted under the seventh article of the same treaty. 


mitted under the name of privateering." This sentiment favors 
your idea in your letter of the 17th, that " the present French 
government is much inclined to correct, at least in part, the 
follies of the past." ^ Inclosed is a private letter to me from 
Mr. King of 28th July, which may reflect some light upon the 
disposition of the French government about that time. They 
might be courting or flattering the northern powers into an armed 
neutrality. The envoys, when they come, will, I hope, be able 
to clear away all doubts, and show us plainly both our duty and 
our interest. I return you the three parchments signed as com- 
missions for Clark, Vanderburg, and Griffin, to be judges in the 
Indiana territory. I wish you a pleasant tour to Richmond, 
but I pray you to give such orders that, if despatches should 
arrive from our envoys, they may be kept as secret as the grave 
till the Senate meets. On Monday, the 13th October, I shall 
set off from this place. Letters should not be sent to me, to 
reach this place or Boston after that day. I pray you to turn 
your reflections to the subject of communications to be made 
to Congress by the President, at the opening of the session, and 
give me your sentiments as soon as possible in writing. The 
Constitution requires that he should give both information and 

I am, Sir, with a sincere attachment, 

John Adams. 

1 Mr. Marshall bad written as follows : — 

"It is certainly wise to contemplate the event of our envoys returning without 
a treaty, but it will very much depend on the intelligence and assurances they 
maj' bring, what course sound policy will direct the tjnited States to pursue. I 
am greatly disposed to think that the present government is much inclined to 
correct, at least in part, the follies of the past. Of these, perhaps, none were 
more conspicuous, or more injurious to the French nation, than their haughty and 
hostile conduct to neutrals. Considerable retrograde steps in this respect have 
already been taken, and I expect the same course will be continued. Should 
this expectation not be disappointed, there will be security, at least a reasonable 
prospect of it, for the future, and there will exist no cause of war, but to obtain 
compensation for past injuries. This, I am persuaded, will not be deemed a 
sufficient motive for such a measure." 

Mr. Wolcott, at this time, was very differently engaged. Gibbs's Memoirs of 
the Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 430. Hamilton's Works, vol. vl. p. 471. 

VOL. IX. 8 



Quincy, 30 September, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — The letter of Mr. King to me of August the 11th, 
with Bell's Weekly Messenger of August 10th, I inclose to you, 
because General Marshall, I suppose, will be absent. I pray 
you to communicate it to the other gentlemen. If the negotia- 
tion is terminated upon the stated points, the object is, no doubt, 
our United States election ; but time will show they are directed 
by superficial advisers. Instead of operating in favor of their 
man, it will work against him. It is very probable they will 
send a minister or ministers here, and it behoves us to consider 
how we shall receive him. There can be no question in Ame- 
rica, or at least with the executive authority of government, 
whether we shall preserve our treaty with Britain with good 
faith. It is impossible we should violate it, because impossibile 
est quod jure impossibile. I send you a letter also from Mr. 
Gore of August 8th, and a triplicate from Mr. King of 2Sth of 
Jiily. I will thank you to return me these letters. 


Quincy, 3 October, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have received last night your letter of 24th 
September. I return you Mr. Adams's letter of 28th of June. 
The question, whether neutral ships shall protect enemies' pro- 
perty, is indeed important. It is of so much importance, that 
if the principle of free ships, free goods, were once really esta- 
blished and honestly observed, it would put an end forever to 
all maritime war, and render all military navies useless. How- 
ever desirable this may be to humanity, how much soever 
philosophy may approve it and Christianity desire it, I am 
clearly convinced it will never take place. The dominant power 
on the ocean will forever trample on it. The French would 
despise it more than any nation in the world, if they had the 
maritime superiority of power, and the Russians next to them. 
We must treat the subject with great attention, and, if all other 
nations will agree to it, we will. But while one holds out, we 


shall be the dupes, if we agree to it. Sweden and Denmark, 
Russia and Prussia, might form a rope of sand, but no depend- 
ance can be placed on such a maritime coalition. We must, 
however, treat the subject with gi-eat respect. If you have 
received a certificate that the ratifications of the treaty with 
Prussia are exchanged, should not a proclamation issue, as 
usual, to publish it? I have read with some care, and great 
pleasure, your letter to Mr. King of 20th September. I think it 
very proper that such a letter should be sent, and I am so fully 
satisfied with the representations and reasonings in it, that I 
shall give it to General Lincoln, the collector of Boston, to be 
sent by the first opportunity to I^ondon.^ 


Quincy, 4 October, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Inclosed is a letter from Mr. Daniel Bedinger, 
with a certificate in his favor from Governor Wood. I suppose 
this letter comes too late; but that, if it had arrived earlier, it 
would have made no alteration in your judgment or mine. 
Neither Mr. Parker nor any other person ever had authority from 
me to say, that any man's political creed would be an insuper- 
able bar to promotion. No such rule has ever been adopted. 
Political principles and discretion will always be considered, 
with all other qualifications, and well weighed, in all appoint- 
ments. But no such monopolizing, and contracted, and illiberal 
system, as that alleged to have been expressed by Mr. Parker, 
was ever adopted by me. 

Washington appointed a multitude of democrats and jaco- 
bins of the deepest die. I have been more cautious in this 
respect; but there is danger of proscribing, under imputations 
of democracy, some of the ablest, most influential, and best 
characters in the Union. 

Inclosed is a letter from William Cobb, requesting to be col- 
lector at Portland. I send you these letters, that they may be 
filed in your office, with others relative to the same subject. 

1 Mr. Marshall had said of this letter, — 

"If you conceive that no such letter should be sent, it may at once be sup- 
pressed. If you wish any changes in that now transmittod, I will, on receiving 
your wish, immediately obey it. If the letter, as sent, is satisfactory to you, I 
must ask the favor of you to let Mi". Shaw forward it to Mr. King." 



Quincy, 9 October, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have read the inclosed tedious proceedings, 
but cannot reconcile myself to the severity of the sentences. 
One of the officers certainly ought to be dismissed, and com- 
pelled to do justice to the men. But the circumstances of 
degradation and infamy might work upon the compassion of 
his neighbors powerfully enough to make him a great man in 
the militia or some State government. The other, perhaps, 
ought to be dismissed only, but of this I am not decided. Let 
them rest till I see you, which will not be long after, nor much 
before, Mrs. Dexter will make you healthy and happy. 

I am, with great regard, 

John Adams. 


Washington, 8 November, 1800. 

Sir, — I have, after due reflection, considered it a duty which 
I owe to myself and family, to retire from the office of Secretary 
of the Treasury ; and accordingly I take the liberty to request 
that the President would be pleased to accept my resignation, 
to take effect, if agreeable to him, only at the close of the pre- 
sent year.i 

In thus suggesting my wishes, I am influenced by a desire 
of affording to the President suitable time to designate my 
successor, and also of reserving to myself an opportunity to 

' Mr. Woloott seems not to have been entirely easy in his mind touching his 
secret occupations during the preceding two months. His mode of compounding 
with his conscience is curiously set forth in his letter to Alexander Hamilton of 
the 3d of September. Gibbs's Memoirs, Sfc, vol. ii. p. 416. See also the letter 
of the 3d October, given in Gibbs, with omissions which are nearly all supplied 
in Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 471. The idea of giving the President, whom he 
was doing his best to eject from office after the 3d of March, time to select a 
successor for two months, is only one degree less singular than that suggested by 
his biographer, that his decision was postponed until after he had become satis- 
fied that the last hope of his continuance, through the secret movement for Mr. 
Pinckney, must fail. See Gibbs's Memoirs, ^'c, vol. ii. pp. 443. 

In the meantime, Mr. Adams had not the remotest suspicion of what was 
going on. Not altogether unfitly does Mr. Wolcott himself remark : " It ap- 
pears to me that certain federalists are in danger of losing character in point of 
sincerity!" Gibbs, vol. ii. p. 431. 


transfer the business of the department without injury to the 
public service. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

Oliver Wolcott. 


Washington, 10 November, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I have received your letter of the 8th of this 
month, and am sorry to find that you judge it necessary to 
retire from office. Although I shall part with your services as 
Secretary of the Treasury with reluctance and regret, I am 
nevertheless sensible that you are the best and the only judge 
of the expediency of your resignation. 

If you persist in your resolution, your own time shall be mine. 
I should wish to know whether, by the close of the present year, 
you mean the last of December, or the fourth of March. If the 
first, it is so near at hand that no time is to be lost in consider- 
ing of a successor. 

I am, &c. 

John Adams. 



Albany, 10 November, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Still pressed by public business, occasioned by 
the late session, I take up my pen to ^vTite you a few lines 
before the mail closes. It very unexpectedly happened that the 
anti-federal party succeeded in the last election at the city of 
New York, and acquired a decided majority in the Assembly. 
Well knowing their views and temper, it was not advisable 
that the speech should contain any matter respecting national 
officers or measures, which would affijrd them an opportunity 
of indulging their propensity to do injustice to both in their 

But the next morning after the delivery of the speech, and 
before they proceeded to the appointment of the electors, ] 
sent them a message (and it is not usual to return any answers 
to such messages,) in which I expressed sentiments which leave 



no room for your political enemies to draw improper inferences 
from the reserve observable in the speech. The respect due to 
myself, as well as to you, forbade me to remain silent on a 
subject and on an occasion so highly interesting; and I flatter 
myself it will be agreeable to you to perceive from these cir- 
cumstances, and to be assured, that I still remain, and will 
remain, dear Sir, your sincere and faithful friend, 

John Jay. 

Just on closing this letter, a newspaper, which I inclose, came 
in. It contains a copy of the Message. 


Washington, 11 November, 1800. 
Sir, — I have the honor to acknowledge with thanks the 
President's obliging letter of yesterday. The time contemplated 
by myself for retiring from office is the last day of December 
next. It will, however, be necessary for me to remain here 
several weeks after my resignation takes place, whenever that 
event may happen, for the purpose of completing the business 
which will have been by me previously commenced. Notwith- 
standing my resignation will take place, agreeable to the Pre- 
sident's permission, on the last day of December, any services, 
which I can afterwards render, while here, will be at the dis- 
posal of my successor or the government. 

I have the honor, &c. 

Oliver Wolcott. 

to john jay. 

Washington, 24 November, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — I received last week your friendly private letter 
of the lOtli. The assurance of the continuance of your friend- 
ship was unnecessary for me, because I have never had a doubt 
of it. But others invent and report as they please. They have 
preserved hitherto, however, more delicacy towards the friend- 
ship between you and me than any other. 

The last mission to France, and the consequent dismission of 


the twelve regiments, although an essential branch of my system 
of policy, has been to those who have been intriguing and labor- 
ing for an army of fifty thousand men, an unpardonable fault. 
If by thfir folly they have thrown themselves on their backs, 
and jacobins should walk over their bellies, as military gentle- 
men express promotions over their heads, whom should they 
blame but themselves ? 

Among the very few truths, in a late pamphlet,^ there is one 
which I shall ever acknovvdedge with pleasure, namely, that the 
principal merit of the negotiation for peace was Mr. Jay's. I 
Avish you would permit our Historical Society to print the papers 
you drew up on that occasion. I often say, that, when my 
confidence in Mr. Jay shall cease, I must give up the cause of 
confidence, and renounce it with all men. 

With great truth and regard, I am now, and ever shall be, 
your friend and servant, 

John Adams. 

to john jay. 

Washington, 19 December, 1800. 

Dear Sir, — Mr. Ellsworth, afflicted with the gravel and the 
gout, and intending to pass the winter in the south of France, 
after a few weeks in England, has resigned his office of Chief 
Justice, and I have nominated you to your old station. This 
is as independent of the inconstancy of the people, as it is of 
the will of a President. In the future administration of our 
country, the firmest security we can have against the effects 
of visionary schemes or fluctuating theories, will be in a solid 
judiciary ; and nothing will cheer the hopes of the best men so 
much as your acceptance of this appointment. You have 
now a great opportunity to render a most signal service to 
your country. I therefore pray you most earnestly to consider 
of it seriously, and accept it. You may very properly resign 
the short remainder of your gubernatorial period, and Mr. Van 
Rensselaer may discharge the duties. I had no permission from 
you to take this step, but it appeared to me that Providence 
had thrown in my way an opportunity, not only of marking to 
the public the spot where, in my opinion, the greatest mass of 

' Mr. Hamilton's attack upon him. 


worth remained collected in one individual, but of furnish- 
ing my country with the best security its inhabitants afforded 
against the increasing dissolution of morals. 

With unabated friendship, and the highest esteem and respect, 

I am, &c. 

John Adams. 

P. S. Your commission will soon follow this letter.^ 


Washington, 24 January, 1801. 

Friends, — I have received your letter of the 17th of the first 
month, and thank you for communicating the letter to me of 
our friend Warner Mifflin. I have read both with pleasure, 
because I believe they proceeded from a sense of duty and a 
principle of benevolence. 

Although I have never sought popularity by any animated 
speeches or inflammatory publications against the slavery of the 
blacks, my opinion against it has always been known, and my 
practice has been so conformable to my sentiments that I have 
always employed freemen, both as domestics and laborers, and 
never in my life did I own a slave. The abolition of slavery 
must be gradual, and accomplished with much caution and cir- 
cumspection. Violent means and measures would produce 
greater violations of justice and humanity than the continuance 
of the practice. Neither Mr. Mifflin nor yourselves, I presume, 
would be willing to venture on exertions which would probably 
excite insurrections among the blacks to rise against their mas- 
ters, and imbue their hands in innocent blood. 

There are many other evils in our country which are growing 
(whereas the practice of slavery is fast diminishing), and threaten 
to bring punishment on our land more immediately than the 
oppression of the blacks. That sacred regard to truth in which 

' " Governor Jay's determination to retii-e from public life had been formed 
with too much deliberation and sincerity to be shaken by the honor now tendei-ed 
to him, and the appointment was promptly and unequivocally declined." Jay's 
Life of J. Jay, vol. i. p. 422. 

Mr. Jay, in his answer, assigns the state of his health as the deciding reason, 
which removed every doubt from his mind. 


you and I were educated, and which is certainly taught and 
enjoined from on high, seems to be vanishing from among us. 
A general relaxation of education and government, a general 
debauchery as well as dissipation, produced by pestilential 
philosophical principles of Epicurus, infinitely more than by 
shows and theatrical entertainments ; these are, in my opinion, 
more serious and threatening evils than even the slavery of the 
blacks, hateful as that is. I might even add that I have been 
informed that the condition of the common sort of white people 
in some of the Southern States, particularly Virginia, is more 
oppressed, degraded, and miserable, than that of the negroes. 
These vices and these miseries deserve the serious and compas- 
sionate consideration of friends, as well as the slave trade and 
the degraded state of the blacks. I wish you success in your 
benevolent endeavors to relieve the distresses of our fellow, 
creatures, and shall always be ready to cooperate with you as 
far as my means and opportunities can reasonably be expected 
to extend. 

I am, with great respect and esteem, your friend, 

John Adams. 


Washington, 26 January, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I have, this morning, received your favor of the 
20th. The anxiety of the gentlemen of the law in New Jersey 
to have the present President of the United States appointed 
Chief Justice, after the 3d of March, is very flattering to me.^ 
Although neither pride, nor vanity, nor indolence, would prevent 
me from accepting any situation, in which I could be useful, I 
know of none for which I am fit. The office of Chief Justice 
is too important for any man to hold of sixty-five years of age, 
who has wholly neglected the study of the law for six and twenty 

1 This sinfjular idea is sugsested by Mr. Boudinot in the followinw manner ; — 
" Being just returned from New Jersey, will you excuse the liberty I take m 
mentioning to you, that I found the gentlemen of the law there exceedingly 
anxious relative to a report that is prevailing, that the office of Chief Justice of 
the United States may possibly be filled by our present Chief Magistrate, after 
the month of March next. I am authorized to say, that it would give them the 
greatest pleasure, and raise their drooping confidence in the future government 
of the United States." 


years. I have already, by the nomination of a gentleman in the 
full vigor of middle age, in the full habits of business, and 
whose reading in the science is fresh in his head, to this office, 
put it wholly out of my power, and, indeed, it never was in my 
hopes or wishes. 

The remainder of my days will probably be spent in the 
labors of agriculture, and the amusements of literature, in both 
of which I have always taken more delight than in any public 
office, of whatever rank. Far removed from all intrigues, and 
out of the reach of all the great and little passions that agitate 
the world, although I take no resolutions, nor make any promises, 
I hope to enjoy more tranquillity than has ever before been my 
lot. Mrs. A. returns her thanks for the friendly politeness of 
Mrs. Boudinot and Mrs. Bradford. The other parts of your 
letter will be duly weighed and considered in their season. 


AVashington, 27 January, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I am much obliged by your favor of the 17th. 
If the judiciary bill should pass, as I hope and believe it will, 
I should be very glad of your advice relative to appointments 
in other States as well as your own. 

The talents and literary qualifications of Mr. William Griffith, 
of Burlington, have been familiar to me for some time. Your 
account of his character in other respects is very satisfactory. 
I doubt, however, of his being literally at the head of his pro- 
fession at the bar, while Mr. Richard Stockton is there, and am 
not clear that his pretensions to the circuit bench are the first. 
I wish to know, in confidence, your sentiments. You may have 
reasons for resigning to another your own pretensions, but 
before any nomination is made, I should be very glad to know, 
whether you would accept it. It is very probable to me that 
your prospects in your own State and at large may be better for 
yourself, and more for the benefit of the public, but as I am not 
certainly informed, I shall be somewhat embarrassed. I may 
have been too indifferent to the smiles of some men, and to the 


frowns of others,^ but neither will influence my judgment, I 
hope, in determining nominations of judges, characters at all 
times sacred in my estimation. 

With great esteem, I remain, &c. 

John Adams. 


Washington, 31 January, 1801. 

I request you would cause to be prepared letters for me to 
sign, to the King of Prussia, recalling Mr. John Quincy Adams, 
as minister plenipotentiary from his court. You may express 
the thanks of the President to his Majesty for the obliging 
reception and kind treatment this minister has met with at his 
court, and may throw the letter into the form of leave to return 
to the United States. You will look into the forms, in your 
office, of former instances of recall. I wish you to make out one 
letter to go by the way of Hamburg, another by Holland, a 
third by France, a fourth through Mr. King in England, a fifth, 
if you please, by the way of Bremen or Stettin, or any other 
channel most likely to convey it sooil It is my opinion this 
minister ought to be recalled from Prussia. Justice would 
require that he should be sent to France or England, if he 
should be continued in Europe. The mission to St. James's is 
perfectly well filled by Mr. King ; that to France is no doubt 
destined for some other character. Besides, it is my opinion 
that it is my duty to call him home. 


Washington, 31 January, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I hereby authorize and request you to execute 
the office of Secretary of State so far as to affix the seal of the 
United States to the inclosed commission to the present Secre- 

' This is an allusion to INIr. Stockton's letter, who said, speaking of " those 
•who under one name or another have perpetually opposed this government and 
calumniated its administration ; " — 

" Your public conduct, Sir, has fully evinced that you never dreaded the 
frowns, nor courted the smiles of such men." 


tary of State, John Marshall, of Virginia, to be Chief Justice 
of the United States, and to certify in your own name on the 
commission as executing the office of the Secretary of State 
pro hdc vice. 

John Adams. 


4 February, 1801. 

Sir, — I pray you to accept my grateful acknowledgments 
for the honor conferred on me in appointing me Chief Justice 
of the United States. This additional and flattering mark of 
your good opinion has made an impression on my mind which 
time will not efface. 

I shall enter immediately on the duties of the office, and hope 
never to give you occasion to regret having made this appoint- 

With the most respectful attachment, &c. 

J. Marshall. 


Washington, 4 February, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I have this moment received your letter of this 
morning, and am happy in your acceptance of the office of 
Chief Justice, The circumstances of the times, however, render 
it necessary that I should request and authorize you, as I do by 
this letter, to continue to discharge all the duties of Secretary 
of State until ulterior arrangements can be made. 

With great esteem, I am, &c. 

John Adams. 

TO JOSEPH ward. 

Washington, 4 February, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I have received and read with much pleasure 
your kind and friendly letter of January 22d. As I have all my 


lifetime expected such events as these which have lately occur- 
red, I was not surprised when they happened. They ought to 
be lessons and solemn warnings to all thinking men. Clouds 
black and gloomy hang over this country, threatening a fierce 
tempest arising merely from party conflicts, at a time when the 
internal and external prosperity of it, and the national prospects 
in every other respect, are the most pleasing and promising that 
we ever beheld. I pray Heaven to dissipate the storm. Depres- 
sions of spirits, such as wound the nice organs of health, I have 
not perceived and do not apprehend, but I have some reason to 
expect that my constitution will have another trial when I come 
to exchange a routine of domestic life, without inuch exercise, 
for a life of long jom-neys and distant voyages, in one or other 
of which I have been monthly or at least yearly engaged for 
two and forty years. When such long continued and violent 
exercise, such frequent agitations of the body, are succeeded by 
stillness, it may shake an old frame. Rapid motion ought not 
to be succeeded by sudden rest. But, at any rate, I have not 
many years before me, and those few are not very enchanting 
in prospect. Till death, an honest man and candid friend will 
ever be dear to my heart, and Colonel Ward, as one of that 
character, may ever be sure of the good-will and kind remem- 
brance of 

John Adams. 

P. S. Ward, 1 wish you would ^vrite a dissertation upon 
parties in this country. 


Washington, 7 February, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — I lament with you the arbitrary application of 
party nicknames and unpopular appellations, and although 
with you I heartily wish, yet I cannot say I hope, that the 
wickedness of the wicked will come to an end. On the con- 
trary, it appears to me that, unlike the rising light which shineth 
more and more to the perfect day, the darkness will thicken till 
it may be felt. In the multitude of applications for consulates, 
it is impossible for me to say what Mr. Lee's success may be. 

VOL. IX. 9 e 


The imputation of jacobinism, which I believe to be groundless, 
will have no weight with me. It may, however, with the Senate. 

I have no inclination to inquire whether I should have been 
evaded, if the electors in South Carolina had been federal, or 
not. I can easily credit such a conjecture. Yet I believe 
the Pinckneys are honorable men, and would not have pro- 
moted or connived at the design. The original plan, which 
was determined in a caucus, proposed, I suppose, by Hamilton, 
and promoted by Goodhue and his patrons and puppets, was 
the fundamental error. Messrs. Pinckney had no just preten- 
sions to such an elevation any more than Mr. Burr, except that 
their characters are fairer, more independent, and respectable. 

I know no more danger of a political convulsion, if a President, 
pro tempore, of the Senate, or a Secretary of State, or Speaker 
of the House, should be made President by Congress, than if 
Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Burr is declared such. The President 
would be as legal in one case as in either of the others, in my 
opinion, and the people as well satisfied. This, however, must 
be followed by another election, and Mr. Jefferson would be 
chosen ; I should, in that case, decline the election. We shall 
be tossed, at any rate, in the tempestuous sea of liberty for 
years to come, and where the bark can land but in a political 
convulsion, I cannot see. I wish the good ship to her desired 

"With usual esteem and regard, &c. 

John Adams. 


Washington, 10 February, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — Inclosed is a Newburyport Herald, in which is 
quoted "a letter from John Adams, dated Amsterdam, 15th 
December, 1780, to Thomas Cashing, Lieutenant-Governor of 
Massachusetts." This letter has been, for some years past, 
reprinted and quoted in many American pamphlets and news- 
papers as genuine, and imposes on many people by supposing 
and imputing to me sentiments inconsistent with the whole 
tenor of my life and all the feelings of my nature.^ I remember 

1 This letter has been, very lately, quoted as genuine. 


to have read the letter in English newspapers soon after it was 
published, at a time when the same English papers teemed with 
forged letters, long, tedious, flat, and dull, in the name of Dr. 
Franklin, the most concise, sprightly, and entertaining writer of 
his time. The Doctor declared them all to be forgeries, which he 
was not under a necessity of doing, because every reader of com- 
mon sense and taste knew them to be such from their style and 
nonsense. The letter in my name, I also declare to be a for- 
gery. I never wTote a letter in the least degree resembling it 
to Lieutenant-Governor Gushing, nor to any other person. This 
declaration I pray you to file in your office, and you have my 
consent to publish it, if you think fit. 

I am. Sir, &c. 

John Adams. 


JMiddletown, 28 IVIarch, 1801. 

I embrace the earliest opportunity which I have been able 
to improve, since your arrival at Quincy, to express my most 
sincere acknowledgments for the distinguished proof, which I 
have received, of your confidence, in being appointed a judge 
of the second circuit of the United States. 

My friends have communicated to me the circumstances 
which attended the appointment ; by which I hear, with the 
highest satisfaction, that I owe the honorable station in which 
I have been placed, to your favorable opinion, and in no degree 
to their solicitation. Believing that gratitude to benefactors is 
among the most amiable, and ought to be among the most 
indissoluble, of social obligations, I shall, without reserve, cherish 
the emotions which are inspired by a sense of duty and honor 
on this occasion.^ 

I am, &c. 

Oliver Wolcott. 

' It is stated in Mr. Gibbs's work, that this " appointment had been made 
with a full knowledjie of Mr. Wolcott's pohtical views, which were, indeed, no 
secret to any one." Mr. Adams certainly had no suspicion of the spirit betrayed 
in the letter to Fisher Ames, of the 10th August, 1800. Mr. Wolcott shows 
conscientious struggles to obtain from his friends the right publicly to declare 
his opposition ; but this they denied him, and therefore he never exercised it. 
Gibbs's Memoirs, Sj-c, vol. ii. pp. 400, 431, 496. 



Quincy, 6 April, 1801. 

Sir, — I have received your favor of the 28th of March, and 
I read it with much pleasure. The information you have 
received from your friends, concerning the circumstances of 
your nomination to be a judge of the second circuit of the 
United States, is very correct. 

I have never allowed myself to speak much of the gratitude 
due from the public to individuals for past services, but I have 
always wished that more should be said of justice. Justice is 
due from the public to itself, and justice is also due to indivi- 
duals. When the public discards or neglects talents and inte- 
grity, united with meritorious past services, it commits iniquity 
against itself, by depriving itself of the benefit of future services ; 
and it does wrong to the individual, by depriving him of the 
reward, which long and faithful services have merited. Twenty 
years of able and faithful services on the part of Mr. Wolcott, 
remunerated only by a simple subsistence, it appeared to me, 
constituted a claim upon the public, which ought to be attended 
to. As it was of importance that no appointment should be 
made that would be refused, I took measures to ascertain from 
your friends the probability of your acceptance, and then made 
the nomination, happy to have so fair an opportunity to place 
you beyond the reach of will and pleasure. I wish you much 
pleasure, and more honor, in your law studies and pursuits, and 
I doubt not you will contribute your full share to make justice 
run down our streets as a stream. My family joins in friendly 
regards to you and yours. With much esteem, I have the 
honor to be, Sir,^ &c. 

John Adams. 

1 Mr. Adams was charged by his enemies, and among others by Mr. Wolcott, 
with being unreasonably jealous and suspicious. To the day of his death he 
never suspected that the individual to whom he addressed this letter, over- 
flowing with kindness, was the person who had secretly furnished the confi- 
dential information, obtained as a cabinet officer and adviser of the President, 
upon which Mr. Hamilton rested his attack upon his reputation, and had 
revised, corrected, amended, and approved all of that paper, whilst in manu- 
script. The evidence of this has now been voluntarily placed before the pub- 
lic by his own grandson, and by the son of Mr. Hamilton. See his letter to Mr. 
Hamilton, 3d September, 1800, in Gibbs's Memoirs of the Federal Adminis- 


irations, vol. ii. pp. 41G-418, and that of 2d October, 1800, in Hamilton's 
Workit, vol. vi. pp. 471-475. Micv a perusal of these letters, the conclusions 
lately drawn by a perfectly impartial witness, may be deemed not entirely 
unworthy of consideration. Referring to Mr. Gibbs's own statement, this 
writer says, — 

" Even from this ex parte case, it is clear that the secretaries, during the whole 
period of their official serv^ice, were cognizant of a plot for the overthrow of their 
chief ; that they not only did not disclose this, but did their best to promote it ; 
and that they both directed the public counsels to its furtherance, and without 
stint disclosed the confidential proceedings of the President himself to supply it 
with fuel. A parallel to this, it is true, is found in the treatment of James U., by 
Churchill and Sunderland, and of Napoleon by Talleyrand and Fouch6 ; but even 
to these extreme and revolutionary cases no term short of ill-faith can be applied. 
It is argued that the cabinet saw that the President's cause was inimical to 
good government, and that, therefore, they had a right to oppose him. Cer- 
tainly they had, it" they had first resigned, and then, when in opposition, respected 
the sanctity of official communications." Wharton's State Trials. Preliminary 
Notes, p. 13. 

The reason given, why these officers did not resign, is that they were deter- 
mined to remain, in order " to control the actions of the President." Gibbs's 
Memoirs, §'c., vol. ii. p. 214. It is worthy of remark, in this connection, that in 
all the subsequent vicissitudes of party conflict in the United States, no similar 
violation of confidence in cabinet officers has ever taken place. 









4 March, 1797. 

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle 
com'se for America remained between unlimited submission to 
a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, 
men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the 
formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to 
resist, than from those contests and dissensions, which would 
certainly arise, concerning the forms of government to be insti- 
tuted, over the whole, and over the parts of this extensive 
country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, 
the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of 
the people, under an overruling Providence, which had so sig- 
nally protected this country from the first, the representatives of 
this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present 
numbers, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forg- 
ing, and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut 
asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an 
ocean of uncertainty. ' 

The zeal and ardor of the people during the revolutionary 
war, supplying the place of government, commanded a degree 
of order, sufficient at least for the temporary preservation of 
society. The confederation, which was early felt to be neces- 
sary, was prepared from the models of the Batavian and Helvetic 
confederacies, the only examples which remain, with any detail 
and precision, in history, and certainly the only ones which the 
people at large had ever considered. But, reflecting on the 
striking difference in so many particulars between this country 


and those where a courier may go from the seat of government 
to the frontier in a single day, it was then certainly foreseen by 
some, who assisted in Congress at the formation of it, that it 
could not be durable. 

Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommenda- 
tions, if not disobedience to its authority, not only in indivi- 
duals but in States, soon appeared, with their melancholy 
consequences ; universal languor, jealousies, rivalries of States ; 
decline of navigation and commerce ; discouragement of neces- 
sary manufactures ; universal fall in the value of lands and 
their produce ; contempt of public and private faith ; loss of 
consideration and credit with foreign nations; and, at length, 
in discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, 
and insurrection ; threatening some great national calamity. 

In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not 
abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolu- 
tion, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to 
form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic 
tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the gene- 
ral welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. The public 
disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations, issued in the pre- 
sent happy constitution of government. 

Employed in the service of my country abroad, during the 
whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution 
of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no 
literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no 
party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as a result of 
good heads, prompted by good hearts ; as an experiment better 
adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of 
this nation and country, than any which had ever been proposed 
or suggested. In its general principles and great outlines, it 
was conformable to such a system of government as I had ever 
most esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in 
particular, had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of 
suffrage in common with my fellow-citizens, in the adoption or 
rejection of a constitution, which was to rule me and my posterity 
as well as them and theirs, I did not hesitate to express my 
approbation of it on all occasions, in public and in private. It 
was not then nor has been since any objection to it, in my mind, 
that the Executive and Senate were not more permanent. Nor 


have I entertained a thought of promoting any alteration in it, 
but such as the people themselves, in the course of their expe- 
rience, should see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and by 
their representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, 
according to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain. 

Returning to the bosom of my country, after a painful separa- 
tion from it for ten years, I had the honor to be elected to a 
station under the new order of things, and I have repeatedly 
laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the 
Constitution. The operation of it has equalled the most san- 
guine expectations of its friends ; and, from an habitual atten- 
tion to it, satisfaction in its administration, and delight in its 
effect upon the peace, order, prosperity, and happiness of the 
nation, I have acquired an habitual attachment to it, and vene- 
ration for it. 

What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve 
our esteem and love ? 

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea, that congre- 
gations of men into cities and nations, are the most pleasing 
objects in the sight of superior intelligences ; but this is very 
certain, that, to a benevolent human mind, there can be no 
spectacle presented by any nation, more pleasing, more noble, 
majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so 
often been seen in this and the other chamber of Congress ; of 
a government, in which the executive authority, as well as that 
of all the branches of the legislature, are exercised by citizens 
selected at regular periods by their neighbors, to make and 
execute laws for the general good. Can any thing essential, 
any thing more than mere ornament and decoration, be added 
to this by robes or diamonds ? Can authority be more amiable 
or respectable, when it descends from accidents or institutions 
established in remote antiquity, than when it springs fresh from 
the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people ? 
For it is the people only that are represented ; it is their power 
and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every 
legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. 
The existence of such a government as ours, for any length of 
time, is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge 
and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what 
object of consideration, more pleasing than this, can be presented 


to the human mind ? If national pride is ever justifiable or 
excusable, it is when it springs, not from power or riches, 
grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, 
information, and benevolence. 

In the midst of these pleasing ideas, we should be unfaithful 
to ourselves, if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our 
liberties, if any thing partial or extraneous should infect the 
purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If 
an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, 
and that can be procured by a party, through artifice or corrup- 
tion, the government may be the choice of a party, for its own 
ends, not of the nation, for the national good. If that solitary 
suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations, by flattery or 
menaces ; by fraud or violence ; by terror, intrigue, or venality ; 
the government may not be the choice of the American people, 
but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern 
us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves. And candid 
men will acknowledge, that, in such cases, choice would have 
little advantage to boast of over lot or chance. 

Such is the amiable and interesting system of government 
(and such are some of the abuses to which it may be exposed), 
which the people of America have exhibited, to the admiration 
and anxiety of the wise and virtuous of all nations, for eight 
years ; under the administration of a citizen, who, by a long 
course of great actions regulated by prudence, justice, temper- 
ance, and fortitude, conducting a people, inspired with the 
same virtues, and animated with the same ardent patriotism 
and love of liberty, to independence and peace, to increasing 
wealth and unexampled prosperity, has merited the gratitude 
of his fellow-citizens, commanded the highest praises of foreign 
nations, and secured immortal glory with posterity. 

In that retirement which is his voluntary choice, may he long 
live to enjoy the delicious recollection of his services, the grati- 
tude of mankind, the happy fruits of them to himself and the 
world, which are daily increasing, and that splendid prospect 
of the future fortunes of his country, which is opening from 
year to year! His name may be still a rampart, and the know- 
ledge that he lives, a bulwark against all open or secret enemies 
of his country's peace. 

This example has been recommended to the imitation of his 


successors, by both Houses of Congress, and by the voice of the 
legislatures and the people throughout the nation. 

On this subject it might become me better to be silent, or to 
speak with diffidence ; but, as something may be expected, the 
occasion, I hope, will be admitted as an apology, if I venture 
to say, that, if a preference upon principle of a free republican 
government, formed upon long and serious reflection, after a 
diligent and impartial inquiry after truth ; if an attachment to 
the Constitution of the United States, and a conscientious 
determination to support it, until it shall be altered by the \ 
judgments and the wishes of the people, expressed in the mode j 
prescribed in it ; if a respectful attention to the constitutions of I 
the individual States, and a constant caution and delicacy 
towards the State governments; if an equal and impartial 
regard to the rights, interests, honor, and happiness of all the 
States in the Union, without preference or regard to a northern 
or southern, eastern or western position, their various political 
opinions on essential points, or their personal attachments; 
if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations ; if a 
love of science and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational 
effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and 
every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion 
among all classes of the people, not only for their benign 
influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes 
and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of pre- 
serving our constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of 
sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, profligacy, 
and corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is 
the angel of destruction to elective governments ; if a love of 
equal laws, of justice and humanity, in the interior administra- 
tion ; if an inclination to improve agi-iculture, commerce, and 
manufactures for necessity, convenience, and defence ; if a spirit 
of equity and humanity towards the aboriginal nations of Ame- 
rica, and a disposition to meliorate their condition by inclining 
them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friend- 
ly to them ; if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and 
inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality 
and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe, which 
has been adopted by the government, and so solemnly sanc- 
tioned by both Houses of Congress, and applauded by the 
VOL. IX. 10 


legislatures of the States and the public opinion, until it shall 
be otherwise ordained by Congress ; if a personal esteem for the 
French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly 
among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship 
which has been so much for the honor and interest of both 
nations ; if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the 
people of America, and the internal sentiment of their own 
power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to 
investigate every just cause, and remove every colorable pre- 
tence of complaint ; if an intention to pursue, by amicable 
negotiation, a reparation for the injuries that have been com- 
mitted on the commerce of our fellow-citizens by whatever 
nation, and (if success cannot be obtained) to lay the facts 
before the legislature, that they may consider what further 
measures the honor and interest of the government and its 
constituents demand ; if a resolution to do justice, as far as 
may depend upon me, at all times, and to all nations, and 
maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence with all the world ; 
if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of 
the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my 
all, and never been deceived ; if elevated ideas of the high 
destinies of this country, and of my own duties towards it, 
founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual 
improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in 
early life, and not obscured, but exalted by experience and age ; 
and with humble reverence I feel it my duty to add, if a vene- 
ration for the religion of a people, who profess and call them- 
selves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent 
respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for 
the public service ; — can enable me in any degree to comply 
with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this 
sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without 

With this great example before me, with the sense and 
spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest of the same 
American people, pledged to support the Constitution of the 
United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all 
its energy ; and my mind is prepared without hesitation, to lay 
myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the 
utmost of my power. 


And may that Being, who is supreme over all, the patron of 
order, the fountain of justice, and the protector, in all ages of the 
world, of virtuous liberty, continue his blessing upon this nation 
and its government, and give it all possible success and dura- 
tion, consistent with the ends of his providence I 

John Adams. 

16 May, 1797. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representative8-, 

The personal inconveniences to the members of the Senate 
and of the House of Representatives, in leaving their families 
and private affairs at this season of the year, are so obvious, 
that I the more regret the extraordinary occasion which has 
rendered the convention of Congress indispensable. 

It would have afforded me the highest satisfaction to have 
been able to congratulate you on a restoration of peace to the 
nations of Europe, whose animosities have endangered our 
tranquillity ; but we have still abundant cause of gratitude to 
the Supreme Dispenser of national blessings for general health 
and promising seasons ; for domestic and social happiness; for 
the rapid progress and ample acquisitions of industry through 
extensive territories ; for civil, political, and religious liberty. 
While other States are desolated with foreign war or convulsed 
with intestine divisions, the United States present the pleas- 
ing prospect of a nation governed by mild and equal laws, 
generally satisfied with the possession of their rights ; neither 
envying the advantages nor fearing the power of other nations ; 
solicitous only for the maintenance of order and justice and the 
preservation of liberty, increasing daily in their attachment to a 
system of government, in proportion to their experience of its 
utility ; yielding a ready and general obedience to laws flowing 
from the reason, and resting on the only solid foundation, the 
affections of the people. 

It is with extreme regret that I shall be obliged to turn your 
thoughts to other circumstances, which admonish us that some 
of these felicities may not be lasting ; but if the tide of our 


prosperity is full, and a reflux commencing, a vigilant circum- 
spection becomes us, that we may meet our reverses with forti- 
tude, and extricate ourselves from their consequences with all 
the skill we possess, and all the efforts in our power. 

In giving to Congress information of the state of the Union, 
and recommending to their consideration such measures as 
appear to me to be necessary or expedient, according to my 
constitutional duty, the causes and the objects of the present 
extraordinary session will be explained. 

After the President of the United States received information 
that the French government had expressed serious discontents 
at some proceedings of the government of these States, said to 
affect the interests of France, he thought it expedient to send to 
that country a new minister, fully instructed to enter on such 
amicable discussions, and to give such candid explanations, as 
might happily remove the discontents and suspicions of the 
French government, and vindicate the conduct of the United 
States. For this purpose he selected from among his fellow- 
citizens a character, whose integrity, talents, experience, and 
services, had placed him in the rank of the most esteemed and 
respected in the nation. The direct object of his mission was 
expressed in his letter of credence to the French republic ; being 
" to maintain that good understanding, which, from the com- 
mencement of the alliance, had subsisted between the two 
nations ; and to efface unfavorable impressions, banish suspi- 
cions, and restore that cordiality which was at once the evidence 
and the pledge of a friendly union;" and his instructions were 
to the same effect, " faithfully to represent the disposition of the 
government and the people of the United States (their disposi- 
tion being one) to remove jealousies, and obviate complaints, 
by showing that they were groundless ; to restore that mutual 
confidence which had been so unfortunately and injuriously 
impaired ; and to explain the relative interests of both countries, 
and the real sentiments of his own." 

A minister thus specially commissioned, it was expected, 
would have proved the instrument of restoring mutual con- 
fidence between the two republics. The first step of the French 
government corresponded with that expectation. 

A few days before his arrival at Paris, the French minister 
of foreign relations informed the American minister then resi- 


dent at Paris, of the formalities to be observed by himself in 
taking leave, and by his successor preparatory to his reception. 
These formalities they observed, and, on the 9th o-f December, 
presented officially to the minister of foreign relations, the one, 
a copy of his letters of recall, the other, a copy of his letters of 
credence. These were laid before the executive directory. Two 
days afterwards, the minister of foreign relations informed the 
recalled American minister, that the executive directory had 
determined not to receive another minister plenipotentiary from 
the United States until after the redress of grievances demanded 
of the American government, and which the French republic 
had a right to expect from it. The American minister imme- 
diately endeavored to ascertain whether, by refusing to receive 
him, it was intended that he should retire from the territories 
of the French republic ; and verbal answers were given that 
such was the intention of the directory. For his own justifica- 
tion he desired a Avritten answer, but obtained none until 
towards the last of January, when, receiving notice, in writing, 
to quit the territories of the republic, he proceeded to Amster- 
dam, where he proposed to wait for instructions from his 
government. During his residence at Paris, cards of hospitality 
were refused him, and he was threatened with being subjected 
to the jurisdiction of the minister of police ; but with becoming 
firmness he insisted on the protection of the law of nations, due 
to him as the known minister of a foreign power. You will 
derive further information from his despatches, which will be 
laid before you. 

As it is often necessary that nations should treat for the 
mutual advantage of their affairs, and especially to accom- 
modate and terminate differences, and as they can treat only 
by ministers, the right of embassy is well known and established 
by the law and usage of nations The refusal on the part of 
France to receive our minister, is then the denial of a right; 
but the refusal to receive him until we have acceded to their 
demands without discussion and without investigation, is to 
treat us neither as allies, nor as friends, nor as a sovereign 

With this conduct of the French government, it will be proper 
to take into view the public audience given to the late minister 
of the United States on his taking leave of the executive direct- 

10* H 


ory. The speech of the President discloses sentiments more 
alarming than the refusal of a minister, because more danger- 
ous to our independence and union, and at the same time 
studiously marked with indignities towards the government of 
the United States. It evinces a disposition to separate the 
people of the United States from the government ; to persuade 
them that they have different affections, principles, and interests, 
from those of their fellow-citizens, whom they themselves have 
chosen to manage their common concerns; and thus to produce 
divisions fatal to our peace. Such attempts ought to be repelled 
with a decision which shall convince France and the world that 
we are not a degraded people, humiliated under a colonial spirit 
of fear and sense of inferiority, fitted to be the miserable instru- 
ments of foreign influence, and regardless of national honor, 
character, and interest. 

I should have been happy to have thrown a veil over these 
transactions, if it had been possible to conceal them ; but they 
have passed on the great theatre of the world, in the face of 
all Europe and America, and with such circumstances of publi- 
city and solemnity that they cannot be disguised, and will not 
soon be forgotten. They have inflicted a wound in the American 
breast. It is my sincere desire, however, that it may be healed. 
It is my desire, and in this I presume I concur with you and 
with our constituents, to preserve peace and friendship with all 
nations ; and believing that neither the honor nor the interest 
of the United States absolutely forbids the repetition of advances 
for securing these desirable objects with France, I shall institute 
a fresh attempt at negotiation, and shall not fail to promote and 
accelerate an accommodation on terms compatible with the 
rights, duties, interests, and honor of the nation. If we have 
committed errors, and these can be demonstrated, we shall be 
willing to correct them. If we have done injuries, we shall be 
willing, on conviction, to redress them ; and equal measures of 
justice we have a right to expect from France and every other 

The diplomatic intercourse between the United States and 
France being at present suspended, the government has no 
means of obtaining official information from that country; 
nevertheless there is reason to believe that the executive direct- 
ory passed a decree, on the 2d of March last, contravening, in 


part, the treaty of amity and commerce of one thousand seven 
hundred and seventy-eight, injurious to our lawful commerce, 
and endangering the lives of our citizens. A copy of this 
decree will be laid before you. 

While we are endeavoring to adjust all our differences with 
France by amicable negotiation, the progress of the war in 
Europe, the depredations on our commerce, the personal injuries 
to our citizens, and the general complexion of affairs, render it 
my indispensable duty to recommend to your consideration 
effectual measures of defence. 

The commerce of the United States has become an interest- 
ing object of attention, whether we consider it in relation to the 
wealth and finances, or the strength and resources of the nation. 
With a sea-coast of near two thousand miles in extent, opening 
a wide field for fisheries, navigation, and commerce, a great 
portion of our citizens naturally apply theii- industry and enter- 
prise to these objects. Any serious and permanent injury to 
commerce would not fail to produce the most embarrassing 
disorders. To prevent it from being undermined and destroyed, 
it is essential that it receive an adequate protection. 

The naval establishment must occur to every man who con- 
siders the injuries committed on our commerce, the insults 
offered to our citizens, and the description of the vessels by 
which these abuses have been practised. As the sufferings of 
our mercantile and seafaring citizens cannot be ascribed to the 
omission of duties demandable, considering the neutral situation 
of our country, they are to be attributed to the hope of impunity, 
arising from a supposed inability on our part to afford protec- 
tion. To resist the consequences of such impressions on the 
minds of foreign nations, and to guard against the degradation 
and servility which they must finally stamp on the American 
character, is an important duty of government. 

A naval power, next to the militia, is the natural defence of 
the United States. The experience of the last ^var Avould be 
sufficient to show, that a moderate naval force, such as would 
be easily within the present abilities of the Union, would have 
been sufficient to have bafffed many formidable transportations 
of troops from one State to another, which were then practised. 
Our sea-coasts, from their great extent, are more easily annoyed, 
and more easily defended, by a naval force, than any other. 


With all the materials our country abounds ; in skill our naval 
architects and navigators are equal to any ; and commanders 
and seamen will not be wanting. 

But although the establishment of a permanent system of 
naval defence appears to be requisite, I am sensible it cannot 
be formed so speedily and extensively as the present crisis 
demands. Hitherto I have thought proper to prevent the sail- 
ing of armed vessels, except on voyages to the East Indies, 
where general usage and the danger from pirates appeared to 
render the permission proper ; yet the restriction has originated 
solely from a wish to prevent collusions with the powers at 
war, contravening the act of Congress, of June, one thousand 
seven hundred and ninety-four ; and not from any doubt enter- 
tained by me of the policy and propriety of permitting our 
vessels to employ means of defence, while engaged in a lawful 
foreign commerce. It remains for Congress to prescribe such 
regulations as will enable our seafaring citizens to defend them- 
selves against violations of the law of nations ; and at the same 
time restrain them from committing acts of hostility against the 
powers at war. In addition to this voluntary provision for 
defence, by individual citizens, it appears to me necessary to 
equip the frigates, and provide other vessels of inferior force 
to take under convoy such merchant vessels as shall remain 

The greater part of the cruisers, whose depredations have 
been most injurious, have been built, and some of them par- 
tially equipped, in the United States. Although an effectual 
remedy may be attended with difficulty, yet I have thought it 
my duty to present the subject generally to your consideration. 
If a mode can be devised by the wisdom of Congress to prevent 
the resources of the United States from being converted into 
the means of annoying our ti-ade, a great evil will be prevented. 
With the same view I think it proper to mention that some of 
our citizens, resident abroad, have fitted out privateers, and 
others have voluntarily taken the command, or entered on board 
of them, and committed spoliations on the commerce of the 
United States. Such unnatural and iniquitous practices can 
be restrained only by severe punishments. 

But besides a protection of our commerce on the seas, I think 
it highly necessary to protect it at home, where it is collected 


in our most important ports. The distance of the United States 
from Europe, and the well known promptitude, ardor, and 
courage of the people in defence of their country, happily 
diminish the probability of invasion. Nevertheless, to guard 
against sudden and predatory incursions, the situation of some 
of our principal seaports demands your consideration ; and as 
our country is vulnerable in other interests besides those of its 
commerce, you will seriously deliberate Avhether the means of 
general defence ought not to be increased by an addition to the 
regular artillery and cavalry, and by arrangements for forming 
a provisional army. 

With the same view, and as a measure which, even in a time 
of universal peace, ought not to be neglected, I recommend to 
your consideration a revision of the laws for organizing, arming, 
and disciplining the militia, to render that natural and safe 
defence of the country efficacious. 

Although it is very true that we ought not to involve our- 
selves in the political system of Europe, but to keep ourselves 
always distinct and separate from it, if we can, yet, to effect 
this separation, early, punctual, and continual information of 
the current chain of events, and of the political projects in 
contemplation, is no less necessary than if we were directly 
concerned in them. It is necessary, in order to the discovery of 
the efforts made to draw us into the vortex, in season to make 
preparations against them. However we may consider our- 
selves, the maritime and commercial powers of the world will 
consider the United States of America as forming a weight in 
that balance of power in Europe, which never can be forgotten 
or neglected. It would not only be against our interest, but it 
would be doing wrong to one half of Europe at least, if we 
should voluntarily throw ourselves into either scale. It is a 
natural policy for a nation that studies to be neutral, to consult 
with other nations engaged in the same studies and pursuits ; 
at the same time that measures ought to be pursued with this 
view, our treaties with Prussia and Sweden, one of which is 
expired, and the other near expiring, might be renewed. 

Gentlemen op the House of Representatives, 
It is particularly your province to consider the state of the 
public finances, and to adopt such measures, respecting them, 


as exigencies shall be found to require. The preservation of 
public credit, the regular extinguishment of the public debt, and 
a provision of funds to defray any extraordinary expenses, will 
of course call for your serious attention. Although the im- 
position of new burdens cannot be in itself agreeable, yet there 
is no ground to doubt that the American people will expect 
from you such measures, as their actual engagements, their 
present security, and future interests demand. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen op the House op Representatives, 

The present situation, of our country imposes an obligation 
on all the departments of government to adopt an explicit and 
decided conduct. In my situation, an exposition of the prin- 
ciples by which my administration will be governed, ought not 
to be omitted. 

It is impossible to conceal from ourselves or the world, what 
has been before observed, that endeavors have been employed 
to foster and establish a division between the government and 
people of the United States. To investigate the causes which 
have encouraged this attempt, is not necessary ; but to repel, 
by decided and united counsels, insinuations so derogatory to 
the honor, and aggressions so dangerous to the constitution, 
union, and even independence of the nation, is an indispensable 

It must not be permitted to be doubted, whether the people 
of the United States will support the government established 
by their voluntary consent, and appointed by their free choice ; 
or whether, by surrendering themselves to the direction of 
foreign and domestic factions, in opposition to their own go- 
vernment, they will forfeit the honorable station they have 
hitherto maintained. 

For myself, having never been indifferent to what concerned 
the interests of my country, devoted the best part of my life to 
obtain and support its independence, and constantly witnessed 
the patriotism, fidelity, and perseverance of my fellow-citizens, 
on the most trying occasions, it is not for me to hesitate or 
abandon a cause in which my heart has been so long engaged. 

Convinced that the conduct of the government has been just 
and impartial to foreign nations, that those internal regulations 


which have been established by law for the preservation of 
peace, are in their nature proper, and that they have been fairly 
executed, nothing will ever be done by me to impair the national 
engagements, to innovate upon principles which have been so 
deliberately and uprightly established, or to surrender in any 
manner the rights of the government. To enable me to main- 
tain this declaration, I rely, under God, with entire confidence, 
on the firm and enlightened support of the national legislature, 
and upon the virtue and patriotism of my fellow-citizens.^ 

John Adams. 

reply to the answer of the senate. 

Mr. Vice-Presidext, 

AND Gentlemen of the Senate, 

It would be an affectation in me to dissemble the pleasure I 
feel on receiving this kind address. 

My long experience of the wisdom, fortitude, and patriotism 
of the Senate of the United States enhances in my estimation 
the value of those obliging expressions of your approbation of 
my conduct, which are a generous reward for the past, and an 
affecting encouragement to constancy and perseverance in future. 

Our sentiments appear to be so entirely in unison, that I 
cannot but believe them to be the rational result of the under- 
standings and the natural feelings of the hearts of Americans 
in general, on contemplating the present state of the nation. 

While such principles and affections prevail, they will form an 
indissoluble bond of union, and a sure pledge that our country 
has no essential injury to apprehend from any portentous ap- 
pearances abroad. In a humble reliance on Divine Providence, 

' There is abundant evidence remaining of the extreme care with which this 
speech was elaborated by the President. Not content with his own draught, 
he seems to have freely resorted to those furnished by Mr. Pickering and Mr. 
"Wolcott, at the same time eliminating words, sentences, and paragraphs at 
every step. To Mr. Pickering he is unquestionably much indebted for portions 
of tin's dignified paper ; at the same time, it should be noted that he took from 
it almost entire the only passage about the propriety of which there has been 
any question, that alluding to the address of the French directory to Mr. Mon- 
roe. See Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. i. p. 257. 

In a paper previously submitted by Mr. Pickering, suggesting topics for the 
message, is a recommendation of an alien law. No notice of it seems to have 
been taken in formins; the messaae. 


we may rest assured that, while we reiterate with sincerity our 
endeavors to accommodate all our differences with France, the 
independence of our country cannot be diminished, its dignity 
degraded, or its glory tarnished, by any nation or combination 
of nations, whether friends or enemies. 

John Adams. 


Mr. Speaker, 

AND Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

I receive with great satisfaction your candid approbation of 
the convention of Congress, and thank you for your assurances 
that the interesting subjects recommended to your consideration 
shall receive the attention, which their importance demands, and 
your cooperation may be expected in those measures which 
may appear necessary for our security or peace. 

The declarations of the representatives of this nation, of their 
saiisfaction at my promotion to the first office in the govern- 
ment, and of their confidence in my sincere endeavors to dis- 
charge the various duties of it with advantage to our common 
country, have excited my most grateful sensibility. 

I pray you, gentlemen, to believe, and to communicate such 
assurance to our constituents, that no event, which I can foresee 
to be attainable by any exertions in the discharge of my duties, 
can afford me so nmch cordial satisfaction as to conduct a nego- 
tiation with the French republic, to a removal of prejudices, a 
correction of errors, a dissipation of umbrages, an accommoda- 
tion of all differences, and a restoration of harmony and affec- 
tion, to the mutual satisfaction of both nations. And whenever 
the leofitimate ors^ans of intercourse shall be restored, and the 


i-eal sentiments of the two governments can be candidly com- 
municated to each other, although strongly impressed with the 
necessity of collecting ourselves into a manly posture of defence, 
I nevertheless entertain an encouraging confidence, that a mu- 
tual spirit of conciliation, a disposition to compensate injuries, 
and accommodate each other in all our relations and connec- 
tions, will produce an agreement to a treaty, consistent with 
the engagements, rights, duties, and honor of both nations. 

John Adams. 


23 November, 1797. 

Gentlemex of the Sexate, 

and of the house of representatives, 

I was for some time apprehensive that it would be necessary, 
on account of the contagious sickness which afflicted the city 
of Philadelphia, to convene the national legislature at some 
other place. This measure it was desirable to avoid, because it 
would occasion much public inconvenience, and a considerable 
public expense, and add to the calamities of the inhabitants of 
this city, whose sufferings must have excited the sympathy of 
all their fellow-cifizens. Therefore, after taking measures to 
ascertain the state and decline of the sickness, I postponed my 
determination, having hopes, now happily realized, that, with- 
out hazard to the lives or health of the members, Congress might 
assemble at this place, where it was next by law to meet. I 
submit, however, to your consideration, whether a power to 
postpone the meeting of Congress, without passing the time 
fixed by the Constitution upon such occasions, would not be a 
useful amendment to the law of 1794. 

Although I cannot yet congratulate you on the reestablish- 
ment of peace in Europe, and the restoration of security to the 
persons and properties of our citizens from injustice and vio- 
lence at sea, we have nevertheless abundant cause of gratitude 
to the source of benevolence and influence, for interior tran- 
quillity and personal security, for propitious seasons, prosperous 
agriculture, productive fisheries, and general improvements ; and, 
above aU, for a rational spirit of civil and religious liberty, and a 
calm but steady determination to support our sovereignty, as 
well as out moral and religious principles, against all open, and 
secret attacks. 

Our envoys extraordinary to the French republic embarked, 
one in July, the other early in August, to join their colleague 
in Holland. I have received intelligence of the arrival of both 
of them in Holland, from whence they all proceeded on their 
journey to Paris, within a few days of the 19th of September. 
Whatever may be the result of this mission, I trust that nothing 
will have been omitted on my part to conduct the negotiation 

VOL. IX. 11 

122 . OFFICIAL. 

to a successful conclusion, on such equitable terms as may be 
compatible with the safety, honor, and interests of the United 
States. Nothing, in the mean time, will contribute so much to 
the preservation of peace, and the attainment of justice, as a 
manifestation of that energy and unanimity, of which, on many 
former occasions, the people of the United States have given 
such memorable proofs, and the exertion of those resources for 
national defence, which a beneficent Providence has kindly 
placed within their power. 

It may be confidently asserted, that nothing has occurred 
since the adjournment of Congress, which renders inexpedient 
those precautionary measures recommended by me to the con- 
sideration of the two houses, at the opening of your late extra- 
ordinary session. If that system was then prudent, it is more 
so now, as increasing depredations strengthen the reasons for 
its adoption. 

Indeed, whatever may be the issue of the negotiation with 
France, and whether the war in Evirope is or is not to continue, 
I hold it most certain that perfect tranquillity and order will 
not soon be obtained. The state of society has so long been 
disturbed, the sense of moral and religious obligations so much 
weakened, public faith and national honor have been so im- 
paired, respect to treaties has been so diminished, and the law 
of nations has lost so much of its force, while pride, ambition, 
avarice, and violence, have been so long unrestrained, there 
remains no reasonable ground on which to raise an expectation, 
that a commerce, without protection or defence, will not be 

The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to 
their existence, at least to their comfort, their growth, prosperity, 
and happiness. The genius, character, and habits of the people 
are highly commercial. Their cities have been formed and 
exist upon commerce. Our agriculture, fisheries, arts, and 
manufactures are connected with and depend upon it. In 
short, commerce has made this country what it is; and it can- 
not be destroyed or neglected without involving the people in 
poverty and distress. Great numbers are directly and solely 
supported by navigation. The faith of society is pledged for 
the preservation of the rights of comxmercial and seafaring, no 
less than of the other citizens. Under this view of our affairs, 


I should hold myself guilty of a neglect of duty, if I forbore to 
recommend that we should make every exertion to protect our 
commerce, and to place our country in a suitable posture of 
defence, as the only sure means of preserving both. 

I have entertained an expectation that it would have been in 
my power, at the opening of this session, to have communicated 
to you the agreeable information of the due execution of our 
treaty with his Catholic Majesty, respecting the withdrawing 
of his troops from our territory, and the demarkation of the line 
of limits ; but by the latest authentic intelligence, Spanish gar- 
risons were still continued within our country, and the running 
of the boundary line had not been commenced. These circum- 
stances are the more to be regretted, as they cannot fail to 
affect the Indians in a manner injurious to the United States. 
Still, however, indulging the hope that the answers which have 
been given will remove the objections offered by the Spanish 
officers to the immediate execution of the treaty, I have judged 
it proper that we should continue in readiness to receive the 
posts, and to run the line of limits. Farther information on 
this subject wiU be communicated in the course of the ses- 

In connection with this unpleasant state of things on our 
western frontier, it is proper for me to mention the attempts of 
foreign agents, to alienate the affections of the Indian nations, 
and to excite them to actual hostilities against the United 
States. Great activity has been exerted by these persons, who 
have insinuated themselves among the Indian tribes residing 
within the territory of the United States, to influence them to 
transfer their affections and force to a foreign nation, to form 
them into a confederacy, and prepare them for w^ar against the 
United States. 

Although measures have been taken to counteract these in- 
fractions of our rights, to prevent Indian hostilities, and to 
preserve entire their attachment to the United States, it is my 
duty to observe that, to give a better effect to these measures, 
and to obviate the consequences of a repetition of such prac- 
tices, a law providing adequate punishment for such offences 
may be necessary. 

The commissioners appointed under the fifth article of the 
treaty of amity, commercej^and navigation, between the United 


States and Great Britain, to ascertain the river which was 
truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix mentioned 
in the treaty of peace, met at Passamaquoddy Bay in October, 
one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six, and viewed the 
mouths of the rivers in question, and the adjacent shores and 
islands; and being of opinion that actual surveys of both rivers 
to their sources were necessary, gave to the agents of the two 
nations instructions for that purpose, and adjourned to meet at 
Boston in August. They met ; but the surveys requiring more 
time than had been supposed, and not being then completed, 
the commissioners again adjourned to meet at Providence, in 
the State of Rhode Island, in June next, when we may expect 
a final examination and decision. 

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the sixth article 
of the treaty, met at Philadelphia in May last to examine the 
claims of British subjects for debts contracted before the peace, 
and still remaining due to them from citizens or inhabitants of 
the United States. Various causes have hitherto prevented any 
determinations; but the business is now resumed, and doubtless 
will be prosecuted without interruption. 

Several decisions on the claims of citizens of the United 
States, for losses and damages sustained by reason of irregular 
and illegal captures or condemnations of their vessels or other 
property, have been made by the commissioners in London, 
conformable to the seventh article of the treaty. The sums 
awarded by the commissioners have been paid by the British 
government. A considerable number of other claims, where 
costs and damages, and not captured property, were the only 
objects in question, have been decided by arbitration, and the 
sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have also 
been paid. 

The commissioners appointed agreeably to the twenty-first 
article of our treaty with Spain, met at Philadelphia in the 
summer past, to examine and decide on the claims of our citi- 
zens for losses they have sustained in consequence of their 
vessels and cargoes having been taken by the subjects of his 
Catholic Majesty, during the late war between Spain and 
France. Their sittings have been interrupted, but are now 

The United States being obligated to make compensation 


for the losses and damages sustained by British subjects, upon 
the award of the commissioners acting under the sixth article 
of the treaty with Great Britain, and for the losses and dama- 
ges sustained by British subjects, by reason of the capture 
of their vessels and merchandise, taken within the limits and 
jm'isdiction of the United States, and brought into their ports, 
or taken by vessels originally armed in ports of the United 
States, upon the awards of the commissioners acting under 
the seventh article of the same treaty, it is necessary that provi- 
sion be made for fulfiUina^ these oblisrations. 

The numerous captures of American vessels by the cruisers 
of the French republic, and of some by those of Spain, have 
occasioned considerable expenses in making and supporting the 
claims of our citizens before their tribunals. The sums required 
for this purpose have, in divers instances, been disbursed by the 
consuls of the United States. By means of the same captures, 
gi*eat numbers of our seamen have been thrown ashore in 
foreign countries, destitute of all means of subsistence ; and 
the sick, in particular, have been exposed to grievous sufferings. 
The consuls have in these cases also advanced moneys for their 
relief. For these advances they reasonably expect reimburse- 
ments from the United States. 

The consular act, relative to seamen, requires revision and 
amendment. The provisions for their support in foreign coun- 
tries, and for their return, are found to be inadequate and 
ineffectual. Another provision seems necessary to be added to 
the consular act. Some foreign vessels have been discovered 
sailing under the flag of the United States, and with forged 
papers. It seldom happens that the consuls can detect this 
deception, because they have no authority to demand an in- 
spection of the registers and sea letters. 

Gentlemen op the House op Representatives, 

It is my duty to recommend to your serious consideration 
those objects which, by the Constitution, are placed particularly 
within your sphere, — the national debt and taxes. 

Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public 
defence was provided for chiefly at the expense of individuals, 
the system of loans has been introduced. And as no nation 
can raise within the year, by taxes, sufficient sums for its 



defence and military operations in time of war, the sums loaned, 
and debts contracted, have necessarily become the subject of 
what have been called funding systems. The consequences 
arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in 
other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent 
their growth in our own. The national defence must be pro- 
vided for, as well as the support of government; but both 
should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate 
taxes, and as little as possible by loans. The estimates for the 
service of the ensuing year will, by my direction, be laid before 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

AND Gentlemen of the House op Representatives, 

We are met together at a most interesting period. The 
situations of the principal powers of Europe are singular and 
portentous. Connected with some by treaties, and with all by 
commerce, no important event there can be indifl'erent to us. 
Such circumstances call with peculiar importunity not less for 
a disposition to unite in all those measures on which the honor, 
safety, and prosperity of our country depend, than for all the 
exertions of wisdom and firmness. 

In all such measures you may rely on my zealous and hearty 


John Adams. 


Gentlemen of the Senate, 
I thank you for this address. When, after the most laborious 
investigation and serious reflection, without partial considera- 
tions or personal motives, measures have been adopted or 
recommended, I can receive no higher testimony of their recti- 
tude than the approbation of an assembly so independent, 
patriotic, and enlightened, as the Senate of the United States. 

^ This speech seems to have been drawn up ahiiost exclusively from Mr. 
Pickering's draught. Much, however, and particularly a long passage touching 
the right of expatriation and the naturalization of foreigners, was expunged. 


Nothing has afforded me more entire satisfaction than the 
coincidence of your judgment with mine, in the opinion of the 
essential importance of our commerce, and the absolute neces- 
sity of a maritime defence. What is it that has drawn to 
Europe the superfluous riches of the three other quarters of the 
globe, but a marine? What is it that has drained the wealth 
of Europe itself into the coffers of two or three of its principal 
commercial powers, but a marine ? 

The world has furnished no example of a flourishing com- 
merce, without a maritime protection ; and a moderate know- 
ledge of man and his history will convince any one that no 
such prodigy ever can arise. A mercantile marine and a mili- 
tary marine must grow up together; one cannot long exist 
without the other. 

John Adams. 

reply to the answer of the house of representatives. 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

I receive this address from the House of Representatives of 
the United States with peculiar pleasure. 

Your approbation of the meeting of Congress in this city, 
and of those other measures of the executive authority of 
government communicated in my address to both Houses at 
the opening of the session, afford me great satisfaction, as the 
strongest desire of my heart is to give satisfacti-on to the people 
and their representatives by a faithful discharge of my duty. 

The confidence you express in the sincerity of my endeavors, 
and in the unanimity of the people, does me much honor and 
gives me great joy. 

I rejoice in that harmony which appears in the sentiments of 
all the branches of the government, on the importance of our 
commerce, and our obligations to defend it, as well as on all the 
other subjects reconmiended to your consideration ; and sin- 
cerely congratulate you and our fellow-citizens at large on this 
appearance, so auspicious to the honor, interest, and happiness 
of the nation. 

John Adams. 


8 December, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

While, with reverence and resignation, we contemplate the 
dispensations of Divine Providence, in the alarming and de- 
structive pestilence with which several of our cities and towns 
have been visited, there is cause for gratitude and mutual con- 
gratulations that the malady has disappeared, and that we are 
again permitted to assemble in safety at the seat of govern- 
ment, for the discharge of our important duties. But when we 
reflect that this fatal disorder has within a few years made 
repeated ravages in some of our principal seaports, and with 
increased malignancy, and when we consider the magnitude of 
the evils arising from the interruption of public and private 
business, whereby the national interests are deeply affected, I 
think it my duty to invite the legislature of the Union to exa- 
mine the expediency of establishing suitable regulations in aid 
of the health laws of the respective States ; for these being 
formed on the idea that contagious sickness may be communi- 
cated through the channels of commerce, there seems to be a 
necessity that Congress, v^^ho alone can regulate trade, should 
frame a system, which, while it may tend to preserve the gene- 
ral health, may be compatible with the interests of commerce 
and the safety of the revenue. 

While we think on this calamity, and sympathize with the 
immediate sufferers, we have abundant reason to present to the 
Supreme Being our annual oblations of gratitude for a liberal 
participation in the ordinary blessings of his providence. To 

1 This speech was oriijinally published with the followino; preface ; — 
"At twelve o'clock, Lieutenant-General Washington, with his Secretary, Colo- 
nel Lear, Major-Generals Pinckney and Hamilton, entered the hall, and took 
their places on the right of the Speaker's chair. Tlie British and Portuguese 
ministers, and the British and Danish consuls, with their secretaries, had their 
places assigned them on the left of the chair. 

"A few minutes after twelve, the President of the United States, accompanied 
by his secretary, and the heads of the several departments of the government, 
appeared. The President having taken his seat, and the officers of government 
theirs, near the general ofHcors. he rose, and addressed the two Houses as fol- 


the usual subjects of gratitude, I cannot omit to add one, of the 
first importance to our well-being and safety — I mean that 
spirit which has arisen in our country against the menaces and 
aggressions of a foreign nation. A manly sense of national 
honor, dignity, and independence, has appeared, which, if en- 
couraged and invigorated by every branch of the government, 
will enable us to view undismayed the enterprises of any foreign 
power, and become tlie sure foundation of national prosperity 
and glory. 

The course of the transactions in relation to the United 
States and France, which have come to my knowledge during 
your recess, will be made the subject of a future communica- 
tion. That communication will confirm the ultimate failure of 
the measures which have been taken by the government of the 
United States, towards an amicable adjustment of differences 
with that power. You will at the same time perceive that the 
French govt^rnment appears solicitous to impress the opinion, 
that it is averse to a rupture with this country, and that it has 
in a qualified manner declared itself willing to receive a minister 
from the United States for the purpose of restoring a good 
understanding. It is unfortunate for professions of this kind, 
that they should be expressed in terms which may countenance 
the inadmissible pretension of a right to prescribe the qualifica- 
tions which a minister from the United States should possess; 
and that while France is asserting the existence of a disposition 
on her part to conciliate with sincerity the differences which 
have arisen, the sincerity of a like disposition on the part of the 
United States, of which so many demonstrative proofs have 
been given, should even be indirectly questioned. It is also 
worthy of observation that the decree of the directory, alleged 
to be intended to restrain the depredations of French cruisers 
on our commerce, has not given and cannot give any relief; it 
enjoins them to conform to all the laws of France relative to 
cruising and prizes, while these laws are themselves the sources 
of the depredations of which we have so long, so justly, and so 
fruitlessly complained. 

The law of France, enacted in January last, which subjects 
to capture and condemnation neutral vessels and their cargoes, 
if any portion of the latter are of British fabric or produce, 
although the entire property belong to neutrals, instead of being 



rescinded, has lately received a confirmation by the failure of a 
proposition for its repeal. While this law, which is an unequi- 
vocal act of war on the commerce of the nations it attacks, 
continues in force, those nations can see in the French govern- 
ment only a power regardless of their essential rights, of their 
independence, and sovereignty ; and if they possess the means, 
they can reconcile nothing with their interest and honor but a 
firm resistance. 

Hitherto, therefore, nothing is discoverable in the conduct of 
France which ought to change or relax our measures of defence. 
On the contrary, to extend and invigorate them is our true policy. 
We have no reason to regret that these measures have been 
thus far adopted and pursued; and in proportion as we enlarge 
our view of the portentous and incalculable situation of Europe, 
we shall discover new and cogent motives for the full develop- 
ment of our energies and resources. 

But, in demonstrating by our conduct that we do not fear 
war in the necessary protection of our rights and honor, we 
shall give no room to infer that we abandon the desire of peace. 
An efficient preparation for war can alone ensure peace. It is 
peace that we have uniformly and perseveringly cultivated; and 
harmony between us and France may be restored at her option. 
But to send another minister without more determinate assur- 
ances that he would be received, would be an act of humiliation 
to which the United States ought not to submit. It must, 
therefore, be left to France, if she is indeed desirous of accom- 
modation, to take the requisite steps. 

The United States will steadily observe the maxims by which 
they have hitherto been governed. They will respect the sacred 
rights of embassy. And with a sincere disposition on the part 
of France to desist from hostility, to make reparation for the 
injuries heretofore inflicted on our commerce, and to do justice 
in future, there will be no obstacle to the restoration of a 
friendly intercourse. In making to you this declaration, I give 
a pledge to France and to the world, that the executive author- 
ity of this country still adheres to the humane and pacific 
policy, which has invariably governed its proceedings, in con- 
formity with the wishes of the other branches of the government, 
and of the people of the United States. But considering the 
late manifestations of her policy towards foreign nations, I deem 


it a duty deliberately and solemnly to declare my opinion, that 
whether we negotiate with her or not, vigorous preparations 
for war will be alike' indispensable. These alone will give to us 
an equal treaty, and insure its observance.^ 

Among the measures of preparation which appear expedient, 
I take the liberty to recall your attention to the naval establish- 
ment. The beneficial effects of the small naval armament 
provided under the acts of the last session, are known and 
acknowledged. Perhaps no country ever experienced more 
sudden and remarkable advantages from any measure of policy 
than we have derived from the arming for our maritime protec- 
tion and defence. We ought, without loss of time, to lay the 
foundation for an increase of our navy, to a size sufficient to 
guard our coast and protect our trade. Such a naval force as 
it is doubtless in the power of the United States to create and 
maintain, would also afford to them the best means of general 
defence, by facilitating the safe transportation of troops and 
stores to every part of our extensive coast. To accomplish this 
important object, a prudent foresight requires that systematical 
measures be adopted for procuring at all times the requisite 

1 The portion of this speech, which relates to foreign affairs, was adopted 
from a drauglit presented by Mr. Wolcott, but probably drawn up in consulta- 
tion with Mr. Hamilton and others outside of the cabinet. It was so distasteful 
to Mr. Adams that he persisted in making a modification of the last two para- 
graphs, so as not to cut off all further chance of initiating a negotiation. The 
extent of the modification may be readily ascertained by comparison with ]\Ir. 
Wolcott's draught, which is printed, though not cpute according to the original, 
in Mr. GIbbs's work, vol. ii. pp. 168-171. But it fell far short of Mr. Adams's 
own draught, which now remains to show his wishes at this period. Neither 
can it be said that the Secretary of State, at least, was not apprised of it, for the 
sheet on which it is written, has the following indorsement in his handwriting. 
" b. Negotiating with France." The bearing of this fact is explained elsewhere. 

" In a message to both houses of Congress, on the twenty-first day of June 
last, I expressed my opinion of the impropriety of sending another minister 
to France, without assurances that he woukl be received, protected, and privi- 
leged according to the law of nations, as the representative of a sovereign State. 
This opinion was well founded, and my resolution is unchanged. It is not my 
intention, however, to preclude the possibility of negotiation, or to throw any 
impediments in the way of an amicable settlement of all controversies with 
France. I think it proper, therefore, to declare that I shall be at all times 
ready to nominate, and, if I should be so happy as to obtain the advice and con- 
sent of the Senate, to appoint another envoy extraordinary and minister pleni- 
potentiary, with full powers and instructions to confer, treat, and conclude with 
a minister of ecpial grade, commissioned by the executive directory, on all points 
in dispute between the two powers. And I judge it proper further to declare, 
that I shall be at all times ready to receive a suitable character, commissioned 
and accredited by the government of France." 


timber and other supplies. In what manner this shall be done 
I leave to your consideration. 

I will now advert, gentlemen, to some matters of less moment, 
but proper to be communicated to the national legislature. 

After the Spanish garrison had evacuated the posts they 
occupied at the Natchez and Walnut Hills, the commissioner 
of the United States commenced his observations to ascertain 
the point near the Mississippi, which terminated the northern- 
most part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude. From 
thence he proceeded to run the boundary line between the 
United States and Spain. He was afterwards joined by the 
Spanish commissioner, when the work of the former was con- 
firmed, and they proceeded together to the demarkation of the 
line. Recent information renders it probable that the southern 
Indians, either instigated to oppose the demarkation, or jealous 
of the consequences of suffering white people to run a line over 
lands to which the Indian title had not been extinguished, have 
ere this time stopped the progress of the commissioners. And 
considering the mischiefs which may result from continuing the 
demarkation, in opposition to the will of the Indian tribes, the 
great expense attending it, and that the boundaries, which 
the commissioners have actually established, probably extend 
at least as far as the Indian title has been extinguished, it will 
perhaps become expedient and necessary to suspend further 
proceedings by recalling our commissioner. 

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the fifth article 
of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the 
United States and his Britannic Majesty, to determine what river 
was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix men- 
tioned in the treaty of peace, and forming a part of the boundary 
therein described, have finally decided that question. On the 25th 
of October they made their declaration that a river called Schoo- 
diac, which falls into Passamaquoddy Bay, at its north-western 
quarter, was the true St. Croix intended in the treaty of peace, 
as far as its great fork, where one of its streams comes from the 
westward and the other from the northvv^ard, and that the latter 
stream is the continuation of the St. Croix to its source. This 
decision, it is understood, will preclude all contention among 
individual claimants, as it seems that the Schoodiao and its 
northern branch, bound the grants of lands which have been 


made by the respective adjoining governments. A subordinate 
question, however, it has been suggested, still remains to be 
determined. Between the mouth of the St. Croix, as now 
settled, and what is usually called the Bay of Fundy, lie a 
number of valuable islands. The commissioners have not con- 
tinued the boundary line through any channel of these islands, 
and unless the Bay of Passamaquoddy be a part of the Bay of 
Fundy, this further adjustment of boundary will be necessary. 
But it is apprehended that this will not be a matter of any 

Such progress has been made in the examination and decision 
of cases of captures and condemnations of American vessels, 
which were the subject of the seventh article of tiie treaty of 
amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United States 
and Great Britain, that it is supposed the commissioners will 
be able to bring their business to a conclusion in August of the 
ensuing year. 

The commissioners, acting under the twenty-first article of 
the treaty between the United States and Spain, have adjusted 
most of the claims of our citizens for losses sustained in conse- 
sequence of their vessels and cargoes having been taken by the 
subjects of his Catholic Majesty, during the late war between 
France and Spain. 

Various circumstances have concurred to delay the execution 
of the law for augmenting the military establishment. Among 
these the desire of obtaining the fullest information to direct the 
best selection of officers. As this object will now be speedily 
accomplished, it is expected that the raising and organizing of 
the troops will proceed without obstacle and with effect. 

Gentlemex of the House of Representatives, 

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations which will 
be necessary for the service of the ensuing year to be laid before 
you, accompanied with a view of the public receipts and ex- 
penditures to a recent period. It will afford you satisfaction 
to infer the great extent and solidity of the public resources, 
from the prosperous state of the finances, notwithstanding the 
unexampled embarrassments which have attended commerce. 
When you reflect on the conspicuous examples of patriotism 
and liberality which have been exhibited by our mercantile 

VOL. IX. 12 


fellow-citizens, and how great a proportion of the public re- 
sources depends on their enterprise, you will naturally consider, 
whether their convenience cannot be promoted and reconciled 
with the security of the revenue by a revision of the system by 
which the collection is at present regulated. 

During your recess, measures have been steadily pursued for 
ejffecting the valuations and retiuns directed by the act of the 
last session, preliminary to the assessment and collection of a 
direct tax. No other delays or obstacles have been experienced, 
except such as were expected to arise from the great extent of 
our country and the magnitude and novelty of the operation ; 
and enough has been accomplished to assure a fulfilment of the 
views of the legislature. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Eepresentatives, 

I cannot close this address without once more adverting to 
our political situation, and inculcating the essential importance 
of uniting in the maintenance of our dearest interests. And I 
trust that by the temper and wisdom of your proceedings, and 
by a harmony of measures, Ave shall secure to our country that 
weight and respect to which it is so justly entitled.^ 

John Adams. 


Gentlemen of the Senate of the United States, 

I thank you for this address, so conformable to the spirit of 
our Constitution, and the established character of the Senate 
of the United States, for wisdom, honor, and virtue. 

I have seen no real evidence of any change of system or dis- 
position in the French republic towards the United States. 
Although the officious interference of individuals, without pub- 
lic character or authority, is not entitled to any credit, yet it 
deserves to be considered, whether that temerity and imperti- 

* A large part of this speech was taken from the draught of Mr. Wolcott and _ 
Mr. Pickering. 


nence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs 
between France and the United States, whether by their secret 
correspondence or otherwise, and intended to impose upon the 
people and separate them from their government, ought not to 
be inquired into and corrected. 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurances that you will 
bestow that consideration on the several objects pointed out in 
my communication, which they respectively merit. 

If I have participated in that understanding, sincerity, and 
constancy, which have been displayed by my fellow-citizens 
and countrymen, in the most trying times, and critical situa- 
tions, and fulfilled my duties to them, I am happy. The testi- 
mony of the Senate of the United States, in my favor, is an 
high and honorable reward, which receives, as it merits, my 
grateful acknowledgments. My zealous cooperation in mea- 
sures necessary to secure us justice and consideration may be 
always depended on. 

John Adams. 


Mr. Speaker, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

My sincere acknowledgments are due to the House of Repre- 
sentatives of the United States for this excellent address, so 
consonant to the character of representatives of a great and 
free people. The judgment and feelings of a nation, I believe, 
were never more truly expressed by their representatives, than 
those of our constituents by your decided declaration, that, 
with our means of defence, our interest and honor command us 
to repel a predatory warfare against the unquestionable rights 
of neutral commerce ; that it becomes the United States to be 
as determined in resistance as they have been patient in suffer- 
ing and condescending in negotiation ; that while those who 
direct the affairs of France persist in the enforcement of decrees 
so hostile to our essential rights, their conduct forbids us to 
confide in any of their professions of amity ; that an adequate 
naval force must be considered as an important object of 


national policy; and that whether negotiations with France are 
resumed or not, vigorous preparations for war will be alike 

The generous disdain you so coolly and deliberately express 
of a reliance on foreign protection, wanting no foreign guaranty 
of our liberties, resolving to maintain our national independence 
against every attempt to despoil us of this inestimable treasure, 
will meet the full approbation of every sound understanding, 
and exulting applauses from the heart of every faithful Ame- 

] thank you, gentlemen, for your candid approbation of my 
sentiments on the subject of negotiation, and for the declara- 
tion of your opinion, that the policy of extending and invigorat- 
ing our measures of defence, and the adoption, with prudent 
foresight, of such systematical measures as may be expedient for 
calling forth the energies of our country wherever the national 
exigencies may require, whether on the ocean, or on our own 
territory, will demand your sedulous attention. 

At the same time I take the liberty to assure you, it shall be 
my vigilant endeavor that no illusory professions shall seduce 
me into any abandonment of the rights which belong to the 
United States as a free and independent nation. 

John Adams. 

3 December, 1799. 

Gentlemen op the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

It is with peculiar satisfaction that I meet the sixth Congress 
of the United States of America. Coming from all parts of the 
Union, at this critical and interesting period, the members 
must be fully possessed of the sentiments and wishes of our 

The flattering prospects of abundance, from the labors of the 
people by land and by sea; the prosperity of our extended 


commerce, notwithstanding interriaptions occasioned by the 
belligerent state of a great part of the world; the return of 
health, industry, and trade, to those cities which have lately 
been afflicted with disease; and the various and inestimable 
advantages, civil and religious, which, secured under our happy 
frame of government, are continued to us unimpaired, demand 
of the whole American people sincere thanks to a benevolent 
Deity for the merciful dispensations of his providence. 

But, while these numerous blessings are recollected, it is a 
painful duty to advert to the ungrateful return which has been 
made for them by some of the people in certain counties of 
Pennsylvania, ^vhere, seduced by the arts and misrepresentations 
of designing men, they have openly resisted the law directing 
the valuation of houses and lands. Such defiance was given to 
the civil authority as rendered hopeless all further attempts by- 
judicial process to enforce the execution of the law; and it 
became necessary to direct a military force to be employed, 
consisting of some companies of regular troops, volunteers, and 
militia, by whose zeal and activity, in cooperation with the 
judicial power, order and submission were restored, and many 
of the offenders arrested. Of these, some have been convicted 
of misdemeanors, and others, charged with various crimes, 
remain to be tried. 

To give due effect to the civil administration of government, 
and to insure a just execution of the laws, a revision and 
amendment of the judiciary system is indispensably necessary. 
In this extensive country it cannot but happen that numerous 
questions respecting the interpretation of the laws, and the 
rights and duties of officers and citizens, must arise. On the 
one hand, the laws should be executed ; on the other, indivi- 
duals should be guarded fronr oppression. Neither of these 
objects is sufficiently assured under the present organization of 
the judicial department. I therefore earnestly recommend the 
subject to your serious consideration. 

Persevering in the pacific and humane policy, which had 
been invariably professed and sincei'ely pursued by the executive 
authority of the United States, when indications were made, 
on the part of the French republic, of a disposition to accom- 
modate the existing differences between the two countries, I 
felt it to be my duty to prepare for meeting their advances by 



a nomination of ministers upon certain conditions, which the 
honor of our country dictated, and which its moderation had 
given it a right to prescribe. The assurances which were 
required of the French government, previous to the departure of 
our envoys, have been given through their minister of foreign 
relations ; and I have directed them to proceed on their mission 
to Paris. They have full power to conclude a treaty, subject 
to the constitutional advice and consent of the Senate. The 
characters of these gentlemen are sure pledges to their country 
that nothing incompatible with its honor or interest, nothing 
inconsistent with our obligations of good faith or friendship to 
any other nation, will be stipulated. 

It appearing probable, from the information I received, that 
our commercial intercourse with some ports in the island of 
St. Domingo might safely be renewed, I took such steps as 
seemed to me expedient to ascertain that point. The result 
being satisfactory, I then, in conformity with the act of Con- 
gress on the subject, directed the restraints and prohibitions of 
that intercourse to be discontinued, on terms which were made 
known by proclamation. Since the renewal of this intercourse, 
our citizens trading to those ports, with their property, have 
been duly respected, and privateering from those ports has 

In examining the claims of British subjects by the commis- 
sioners at Philadelphia, acting under the sixth article of the 
treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation Avith Great Britain, 
a difference of opinion, on points deemed essential in the inter- 
pretation of that article, has arisen between the commissioners 
appointed by the United States, and the other members of that 
board; from which the former have thought it their duty to 
withdraw. It is sincerely to be regretted, that the execution of 
an article produced by a mutual spirit of amity and justice, should 
have been thus unavoidably interrupted. It is, however, con- 
fidently expected that the same spirit of amity and the same 
sense of justice, in which it originated, will lead to satisfactory 
explanations. In consequence of the obstacles to the progi-ess 
of the commission in Philadelphia, his Britannic Majesty has 
directed the commissioners appointed by him under the seventh 
article of the treaty, relating to British captures of American 
vessels, to withdraw from the board sitting in London; but 


with the express declaration of his determination to fulfil with 
punctuality and good faith the engagements which his majesty 
has contracted by his treaty with the United States ; and that 
they will be instructed to resume their functions, whenever the 
obstacles, which impede the progress of the commission at Phi- 
ladelphia, shall be removed. It being in like manner my sincere 
determination, so far as the same depends on me, that, with equal 
punctuality and good faith, the engagements contracted by the 
United States, in their treaties with his Britannic majesty, shall 
be fulfilled, I shall immediately instruct our minister at Lon- 
don to endeavor to obtain the explanations necessary to a just 
performance of those engagements on the part of the United 
States. With such dispositions on both sides, I cannot enter- 
tain a doubt that all difficulties will soon be removed, and that 
the two boards will then proceed, and bring the business com- 
mitted to them, respectively, to a satisfactory conclusion. 

The act of Congress, relative to the seat of the government of 
the United States, requiring that on the first Monday of Decem- 
ber next, it should be transferred from Philadelphia to the district 
chosen for its permanent seat, it is proper for me to inform you, 
that the commissioners appointed to provide suitable buildings 
for the accommodation of Congress, and of the President, and 
of the public offices of the government, have made a report of 
the state of the buildings designed for those purposes in the 
city of Washington ; from which they conclude that the removal 
of the seat of government to that place, at the time required, 
will be practicable, and the accommodation satisfactory. Their 
report will be laid before you. 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary 
for the service of the ensuing year, together with an account of 
the revenue and expenditure, to be laid before you. During a 
period, in which a great portion of the civilized world has been 
involved in a war unusually calamitous and destructive, it was 
not to be expected that the United States could be exempted 
from extraordinary burdens. Although the period is not arrived 
when the measures adopted to secure our country against 
foreign attacks can be renounced, yet it is alike necessary for 
the honor of the government and the satisfaction of the com- 


munity, that an exact economy should be maintained. I invite 
you, gentlemen, to investigate the different branches of the 
public expenditure. The examination will lead to beneficial 
retrenchments, or produce a conviction of the wisdom of the 
measures to which the expenditure relates. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen op^ the House of Representatives, 

At a period like the present, when momentous changes are 
occurring, and every hour is preparing new and great events in 
the political world, when a spirit of war is prevalent in almost 
every nation, with whose affairs the interests of the United States 
have any connection, unsafe and precarious would be our situa- 
tion, were we to neglect the means of maintaining our just 
rights. The result of the mission to France is uncertain; but 
however it may terminate, a steady perseverance in a system 
of national defence, commensurate with our resources and the 
situation of our country, is an obvious dictate of wisdom. For, 
remotely as we are placed from the belligerent nations, and 
desirous as we are, by doing justice to all, to avoid offence to 
any, nothing short of the power of repelling aggressions will 
secure to our country a rational prospect of escaping the cala- 
mities of war or national degradation. As to myself, it is my 
anxious desire so to execute the trust reposed in me, as to ren- 
der the people of the United States prosperous and happy. I 
rely, with entire confidence, on your cooperation in objects 
equally your care ; and that our mutual labors will serve to 
increase and confirm union among our fellow-citizens, and an 
unshaken attachment to our government. 

John Adams. 

reply to the answer of the senate. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

I thank you for this address. I wish you all possible success 

and satisfaction in your deliberations on the means which have 

a tendency to promote and extend our national interests and 

happiness; and I assure you that in all your measures directed 


to those great objects, you may at all times rely with the highest 
confidence on my cordial cooperation. 

The praise of the Senate, so judiciously conferred on the 
promptitude and zeal of the troops called to suppress the insur- 
rection, as it falls from so high authority, must make a deep 
impression, both as a terror to the disobedient, and an encourage- 
ment of such as do well. 

John Adams. 

reply to the answer of the house of representatives. 

Gentlemex of the House of Repkesentatives, 

This very respectful address from the representatives of the 
people of the United States, at their first assembly after a fresh 
election, under the strong impression of the public opinion and 
national sense at this interestinar and sinsjular crisis of our 
public affairs, has excited my sensibility, and receives my sin- 
cere and grateful acknowledgments.^ 

As long as we can maintain with harmony and affection the 
honor of our country, consistently with its peace, externally and 
internally, while that is attainable, or in war, when that becomes 
necessary, assert its real independence and sovereignty, and 
support the constitutional energies and dignity of its govern- 
ment, we may be perfectly sure, under the smiles of Divine 
Providence, that we shall effectually promote and extend our 
national interest and happiness. 

The applause of the Senate and House of Representatives 
so justly bestowed upon the volunteers and militia for their 
zealous and active cooperation with the judicial power, which 
has restored order and submission to the laws, as it comes with 
peculiar weight and propriety from the legislature, cannot fail 
to have an extensive and permanent effect for the support of 

1 This address was drawn by John Marshall, and undoubtedly expressed his 
own sentiments, and those of tlie majority, including nearly all the southern 
members, of the federal party. The vexation which it caused to those who 
were dissatisfied with the policy, but who could not venture to declare them- 
selves against it, is curiously displayed in Mr. Wolcott's letter to Fisher Ames, 
Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 314. The answer of the Senate 
shows the prevalence of a different influence. 


government upon all those ingenuous minds who receive delight 
from the approving and animating voice of their country. 

John Adams. 

on the peath of george washington. 

23 December, 1799. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

I receive, with the most respectful and affectionate senti- 
ments, in this impressive address, the obliging expressions of 
your regard for the loss our country has sustained in the death 
of her most esteemed, beloved, and admired citizen. 

In the multitude of my thoughts and recollections on this 
melancholy event, you will permit me only to say, that I have 
seen him in the days of adversity, in some of the scenes of his 
deepest distress and most trying perplexities; I have also 
attended him in his highest elevation, and most prosperous 
felicity, with uniform admiration of his wisdom, moderation, 
and constancy. 

Amonof all our orisfinal associates in that memorable league 
of the continent in 1774, which first expressed the sovereign 
will of a free nation in America, he was the only one remaining 
in the general government. 

Although, with a constitution more enfeebled than his at an 
age when he thought it necessary to prepare for retirement, I 
feel myself alone, bereaved of my last brother, yet I derive a 
strong consolation from the unanimous disposition which ap- 
pears, in all ages and classes, to mingle their sorrows with mine 
on this common calamity to the world. 

The life of our Washington cannot suffer by a comparison 
with those of other countries who have been most celebrated 
and exalted by fame. The attributes and decorations of royalty 
could have only served to eclipse the majesty of those virtues 
which made him. from being a modest citizen, a more resplend- 
ent luminary. Misfortune, had he lived, could hereafter have 
sullied his glory only with those superficial minds, who, believ- 
ing that characters and actions are marked by success alone, 


rarely deserve to enjoy it. Malice could never blast his honor, 
and envy made him a singular exception to her universal rule. 
For himself, he had lived enough to life and to glory. For his 
fellow-citizens, if their prayers could have been answered, he 
would have been immortal. For me, his departure is at a 
most unfortunate moment. Trusting, however, in the wise and 
righteous dominion of Providence over the passions of men, 
and the results of their counsels and actions, as well as over 
their lives, nothing remains for me but humble resignation. 

His example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and 
virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present 
age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be 
read. If a Trajan found a Pliny, a Marcus Aurelius can never 
want biographers, eulogists, or historians. 

John Adams. 

22 November, 1800. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

Immediately after the adjournment of Congress at their last 
session in Philadelphia, I gave directions, in compliance with 
the laws, for the removal of the public offices, records, and 
property. These directions have been executed, and the public 
officers have since resided, and conducted the ordinary business 
of the government, in this place. 

I congratulate the people of the United States on the assem- 
bling of Congress at the permanent seat of their government; 
and I congratulate you, gentlemen, on the prospect of a resi- 
dence not to be changed. Although there is cause to apprehend 
that accommodations are not now so complete as might be 
wished, yet there is gi-eat reason to believe that this inconve- 
nience will cease with the present session. 

It would be unbecoming the representatives of this nation 
to assemble, for the first time, in this solemn temple, without 
looking up to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, and imploring 
his blessing. 


May this territory be the residence of virtue and happiness! 
In this city may that piety and virtue, that wisdom and magna- 
nimity, that constancy and self-government, which adorned the 
great character whose name it bears, be forever held in venera- 
tion ! Here, and throughout om- country, may simple manners, 
pure morals, and true religion, flourish forever I 

It is with you, gentlemen, to consider whether the local 
powers over the district of Columbia, vested by the Constitution 
in the Congress of the United States, shall be immediately 
exercised. If, in your opinion, this important trust ought now 
to be executed, you cannot fail, while performing it, to take 
into view the future probable situation of the territory for the 
happiness of which you are about to provide. You will con- 
sider it as the capital of a great nation, advancing, with 
unexampled rapidity, in arts, in commerce, in wealth, and in 
population ; and possessing within itself those energies and 
resources, which, if not thrown away or lameaitably misdirected, 
secure to it a long course of prosperity and self-government. 

In compliance with a law of the last session of Congress, the 
officers and soldiers of the temporary army have been discharged. 
It affords real pleasure to recollect the honorable testimony they 
gave of the patriotic motives which brought them into the ser- 
vice of their country by the readiness and regularity with which 
they returned to the station of private citizens. 

It is in every point of view of such primary importance to 
carry the laws into prompt and faithful execution, and to render 
that part of the administration of justice which the Constitution 
and laws devolve on the federal courts, as convenient to the 
people as may consist with their present circumstances, that I 
cannot omit once more to recommend to your serious consider- 
ation the judiciary system of the United States. No subject is 
more interesting than this to the public happiness, and to none 
can those improvements which may have been suggested by 
experience, be more beneficially applied. 

A treaty of amity and commerce with the King of Prussia 
has been concluded and ratified. The ratifications have been 
exchanged, and I have directed the treaty to be promulgated by 

The difficulties, which suspended the execution of the sixth 
article of our treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with 


Great Britain, have not yet been removed. The negotiation on 
this subject is still depending. As it must be for the interest 
and honor of both nations to adjust this difference with good 
faith, I indulge confidently the expectation that the sincere 
endeavors of the government of the United States to bring it to 
an amicable termination, will not be disappointed. 

The envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary from 
the United States to France, were received bj the first Consul 
with the respect due to their character ; and three persons, with 
equal powers, were appointed to treat with them. Although at 
the date of the last official intelligence the negotiation had not 
terminated, yet it is to be hoped that our efforts to effect an 
accommodation will at length meet with a success proportioned 
to the sincerity with which they have been so often repeated. 

While our best endeavors for the preservation of harmony 
with all nations will continue to be used, the experience of the 
world and our own experience admonish us of the insecurity of 
trusting too confidently to their success. We cannot, without 
committing a dangerous imprudence, abandon those measures 
of self-protection, which are adapted to our situation, and to 
which, notwithstanding our pacific policy, the violence and 
injustice of others may again compel us to resort. While our 
vast extent of sea-coast, the commercial and agricultural habits 
of our people, the great capital they will continue to trust on 
the ocean, suggest the system of defence which will be most 
beneficial to ourselves, our distance from Europe, and our 
resources for maritime strength, will enable us to employ it 
with eflect. Seasonable and systematic arrangements, so far 
as our resources will justify, for a navy adapted to defensive 
war, and which may in case of necessity be quickly brought into 
use, seem to be as much recommended by a wise and true 
economy as by a just regard for our future tranquillity, for the 
safety of our shores, and for the protection of our property 
committed to the ocean. 

The present navy of the United States, called suddenly into 
existence by a great national exigency, has raised us in our 
own esteem ; and by the protection afforded to our commerce, 
has effected to the extent of our expectations the objects for 
which it was created. 

In connection with a navy ought to be contemplated the 

VOL. IX. 13 J 


fortification of some of our principal seaports and harbors. A 
variety of considerations, which will readily suggest themselves, 
urge an attention to this measure of precaution. To give 
security to our principal ports, considerable sums have already 
been expended, but the works remain incomplete. It is for 
Congress to determine whether additional appropriations shall 
be made, in order to render competent to the intended purposes 
the fortifications which have been commenced. 

The manufacture of arms within the United States still invites 
the attention of the national legislature. At a considerable 
expense to the public this manufactory has been brought to 
such a state of maturity as, with continued encouragement, will 
supersede the necessity of future importations from foreign 

Gentlemen of the House of Eepresentatives, 

I shall direct the estimates of the appropriations necessary 
for the ensuing year, together with an account of the public 
revenue and expenditure to a late period, to be laid before you. 

I observe with much satisfaction that the product of the 
revenue during the present year has been more considerable 
than during any former equal period. This result affords con- 
clusive evidence of the great resources of this country, and of 
the wisdom and efficiency of the measures which have been 
adopted by Congress for the protection of commerce and pre- 
servation of public credit. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

AND Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

As one of the grand community of nations, our attention is 
irresistibly drawn to the important scenes which surround us. 
If they have exhibited an uncommon portion of calamity, it 
is the province of humanity to deplore, and of wisdom to 
avoid, the causes which may have produced it. If, turning 
our eyes homeward, we find reason to rejoice at the prospect 
which presents itself; if we perceive the interior of our country 
prosperous, free, and happy; if all enjoy in safety, under the 
protection of laws emanating only from the general will, the 
fruits of their own labor, we ought to fortify and cling to those 
institutions which have been the source of much real felicity, 


and resist with unabating perseverance the progress of those 
dangerous innovations which may diminish their influence. 

To your patriotism, gentlemen, has been confided the honor- 
able duty of guarding the public interests ; and while the past 
is to your country a sure pledge that it will be faithfully dis- 
charged, permit me to assm'e you that your labors to promote 
the general happiness will receive from me the most zealous 

John Adams. 

reply to the answer of the senate. 

Mr. President, axd 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

For this excellent address, so respectful to the memory of my 
illustrious predecessor, which I receive from the Senate of the 
United States at this time and in this place, with peculiar 
satisfaction, I pray you to accept of my unfeigned acknowledg- 
ments. With you I ardently hope that permanence and sta- 
bility will be communicated as well to the government itself, 
as to its beautiful and commodious seat. With you I deplore 
the death of that hero and sage who bore so honorable and 
efficient a part in the establishment of both. Great, indeed, 
would have been my gratification, if his sum of earthly happi- 
ness had been completed by seeing the government thus peace- 
ably convened at this place, hiniself at its head. But while 
we submit to the decisions of heaven, whose counsels are in- 
scrutable to us, we cannot but hope that the members of Con- 
gress, the officers of government, and all who inhabit the city 
or the country, will retain his virtues in lively recollection, and 
make his patriotism, morals, and piety, models for imitation. 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the several 
subjects for legislative consideration, recommended in my com- 
munication to both houses, shall receive from the Senate a 
deliberate and candid attention. 

With you, gentlemen, I sincerely deprecate all spirit of inno- 
vation, which may weaken the sacred bond that connects the 
different parts of this nation and government ; and with you I 
trust, that, under the protection of Divine Providence, the wis- 
dom and virtue of our citizens will deliver our national compact 


unimpaired to a free, prosperous, liappy, and grateful posterity. 
To this end it is my fervent prayer, that, in this city, the foun- 
tains of wisdom may be always open, and the streams of 
eloquence forever flow. Here may the youth of this extensive 
country forever look up without disappointment, not only to 
the monuments and memorials of the dead, but to the examples 
of the living, in the members of Congress and officers of govern- 
ment, for finished models of all those virtues, graces, talents, 
and accomplishments, which constitute the dignity of human 
nature, and lay the only foundation for the prosperity or dura- 
tion of empires. 

John Adams. 


Mr. Speaker, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

Compelled by the habits of a long life as well as by all the 
principles of society and government which I could ever under- 
stand and believe, to consider the great body of the people as 
the source of all legitimate authority, no less than of all efficient 
power, it is impossible for me to receive this address from the 
immediate representatives of the American people, at this time 
and in this place, without emotions which it would be improper 
to express, if any language could convey them. 

May the spirit which animated the great founder of this city, 
descend to future generations; and may the wisdom, magnani- 
mity, and steadiness, which marked the events of his public 
life, be imitated in all succeeding ages! 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the judiciary 
system shall receive your deliberate attention. 

With you, gentlemen, I sincerely hope, that the final result 
of the negotiations now pending with France, may prove as 
fortunate to our country as they have been commenced with 
sincerity, and prosecuted with deliberation and caution. With 
you I cordially agree, that so long as predatory war is carried 
on against our commerce, we should sacrifice the interests and 
disappoint the expectations of our constituents, should we for a 
moment relax that system of maritime defence, which has 


resulted in such beneficial effects. With you I confidently 
believe, that few persons can be found within the United States, 
who do not admit that a navy, well organized, must constitute 
the natural and efficient defence of this country against all 
foreign hostility. 

Those who recollect the distress and danger to this country 
in former periods from the want of arms, must exult in the 
assurance from their representatives, that we shall soon rival 
foreign countries, not only in the number, but in the quality of 
arms, completed from our own manufactories. 

With you, gentlemen, I fully agree that the great increase of 
revenue is a proof that the measures of maritime defence were 
founded in wisdom. This policy has raised us in the esteem 
of foreign nations. That national spirit and those latent ener- 
gies which had not been and are not yet fully known to any, 
were not entirely forgotten by those who have lived long enough 
to see in former times their operation and some of their effects. 
Our fellow-citizens were undoubtedly prepared to meet every 
event which national honor or national security could render 
necessary. These it is to be hoped are secured at the cheapest 
and easiest rate. If not, they will be secured at more expense. 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the various 
subjects recommended to your consideration shall receive your 
deliberate attention. No further evidence is wanting to con- 
vince me of the zeal and sincerity with which the House of 
Representatives regard the public good. 

I pray you, gentlemen, to accept of my best wishes for your 
health and happiness. 

John Adams. 



nominating envoys to france. 

31 May, 1797. 

. Gentlemen of the Senate, 

I nominate General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South 
Carolina, Francis Dana, Chief Justice of the State of Massa- 
chusetts, and General John Marshall, of Virginia, to be jointly 
and severally envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary 
to the French republic. 

After mature deliberation on the critical situation of our 
relations with France, which have long engaged my serious 
attention, I have determined on these nominations of persons 
to negotiate with the French republic, to dissipate umbrages, 
to remove prejudices, to rectify errors, and adjust all differences 
by a treaty between the two powers. 

It is, in the present critical and singujai circumstances, of 
great importance to engage the confidence of the great portions 
of the Union, in the characters employed, and the measures 
which may be adopted. I have therefore thought it expedient 
to nominate persons of talents and integrity, long known and 
intrusted in the three great divisions of the Union ; and, at the 
same time, to provide against the cases of death, absence, indis- 
position, or other impediment, to invest any one or more of 
them with full powers. 

John Adams. 


respecting the territory of the natchez. 

12 June, 1797. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen op the House of Eepresentatives, 

I have received information from the commissioner appointed 
on the part of the United States, pursuant to the third article 
of our treaty with Spain, that the running and marking of the 
boundary line between the colonies of East and West Florida 
and the territory of the United States, have been delayed by 
the officers of his Catholic Majesty ; and that they have declared 
their intention to maintain his jurisdiction, and to suspend the 
withdrawing of his troops from the military posts they occupy 
within the tenitory of the United States, until the two govern- 
ments shall, by negotiation, have settled the meaning of the 
second article respecting the withdrawing of the troops, garri- 
sons, or settlements of either party in the territory of the other ; 
that is, whether, when the Spanish garrisons withdraw, they 
are to leave the works standing, or to demolish them ; and until, 
by an additional article to the treaty, the real property of the 
inhabitants shall be secured ; and likewise, until the Spanish 
officers are sure the Indians will be pacific. The two fo'st 
questions, if to be determined by negotiation, might be made 
subjects of discussion for years; and as no limitation of time 
can be prescribed to the other, or certainty in the opinion of the 
Spanish officers that the Indians will be pacific, it will be im- 
possible to suffer it to remain an obstacle to the fulfilment of 
the treaty on the part of Spain. 

To remove the first difficulty, I have determined to leave it 
to the discretion of the officers of his Catholic Majesty, when 
they withdraw his troops from the forts within the territory of 
the United States, either to leave the works standing, or to 
demolish them ; and, to remove the second, I shall cause an 
assurance to be published, and to be particularly communicated 
to the minister of his Catholic Majesty, and to the Governor of 
Louisiana, that the settlers or occupants of the lands in question 
shall not be disturbed in their possessions by the troops of the 


United States ; but, on the contrary, that they shall be protected 
in all their lawful claims ; and, to prevent or remove every 
doubt on this point, it merits the consideration of Congress, 
whether it will not be expedient immediately to pass a law, 
giving positive assurances to those inhabitants, who, by fair 
and regular grants, or by occupancy, have obtained legal titles 
or equitable claims to lands in that country, prior to the final 
ratification of the treaty between the United States and Spain, 
on the twenty-fifth of April, 1796. 

This country is rendered peculiarly valuable by its inhabitants, 
who are represented to amount to nearly four thousand, gene- 
rally well affected, and much attached to the United States, and 
zealous for the establishment of a government under their 

I therefore recommend to your consideration the expediency 
of erecting a government in the district of the Natchez, similar 
to that established for the territory north-west of the river Ohio, 
but w^ith certain modifications relative to titles or claims of 
land, whether of individuals or companies, or to claims of juris- 
diction of any individual State. 

John Adams. 


23 JUXE, 1797. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

The Dey of Algiers has manifested a predilection for Ameri- 
can built vessels, and, in consequence, has desired that two 
vessels might be constructed and equipped, as cruisers, accord- 
ing to the choice and taste of Captain O'Brien. The cost of 
two such vessels, built with live oak and cedar, and coppered, 
with guns and all other equipments complete, is estimated at 
forty-five thousand dollars. The expense of navigating them 
to Algiers may, perhaps, be compensated by the freight of the 
stores with which they may be loaded on account of our stipu- 
lations by treaty with the Dey. 


A compliance with the Dcy's request appears to rac to be 
of serious importance. He will repay the whole expense of 
building and equipping the two vessels ; and as he has advanced 
the price of our peace with Tripoli, and become pledged for 
that of Tunis, the United States seem to be under peculiar 
obligations to provide this accommodation ; and I trust that 
Congress will authorize the advance of money necessary for 
that purpose. 

It also appears to be of importance to place at Algiers a per- 
son as consul, in whose integrity and ability much confidence 
may be placed, to whom a considerable latitude of discretion 
should be allowed for the interest of the United States in rela- 
tion to their commerce. That country is so remote as to render 
it impracticable for the consul to ask and receive instructions in 
sudden emergencies. He may sometimes find it necessary to 
make instant engagements for money, or its equivalent, to pre- 
vent greater expenses or more serious evils. We can hardly hope 
to escape occasions of discontent proceeding from the regency, 
or arising from the misconduct or even the misfortunes of our 
commercial vessels navigating in the Mediterranean sea ; and 
unless the causes of discontent are speedily removed, the resent- 
ment of the regency may be exerted with precipitation on our 
defenceless citizens and their property, and thus occasion a 
tenfold expense to the United States. For these reasons it 
appears to me to be expedient to vest the consul at Algiers 
with a degree of discretionary power, which can be requisite in 
no other situation. And to encourage a person deserving the 
public confidence to accept so expensive and responsible a 
situation, it appears indispensable to allow him a handsome 
salary. I should confer on such a consul a superintending 
power over the consulates for the States of Tunis and Tripoli, 
especially in respect to pecuniary engagements, which should 
not be made without his approbation. 

While the present salary of two thousand dollars a year ap- 
pears adequate to the consulates of Tunis and Tripoli, twice 
that sum probably will be requisite for Algiers. 

.ToniN Adams. 


communicating information respecting spain. 

3 July, 1797. 

Gentlkmen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

The whole of the intelligence which has for some time past 
been received from abroad, the correspondences between this 
government and the ministers of the belligerent powers residing 
here, and the advices from the officers of the United States, 
civil and military, upon the frontiers, all conspire to show in a 
very strong light the critical situation of our country. That 
Congress might be enabled to form a more perfect judgment of 
it, and of the measures necessary to be taken, I have directed 
the proper officers to prepare such collections of extracts from 
the public correspondences as might affi^rd the clearest informa- 
tion. The reports made to me from the Secretary of State and 
the Secretary at War, with the collection of documents from 
each of them, are now communicated to both houses of Con- 
gress. I have desired that the message, reports, and documents, 
may be considered as confidential, merely that the members of 
both houses of Congress may be apprised of their contents 
before they should be made public. As soon as the houses 
shall have heard them, I shall submit to their discretion the 
publication of the whole or any such parts of them as they shall 
judge necessary or expedient for the public good. 

John Adams. 

announcing the ratification of an amendment 

OF THE constitution. 

8 January, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House op Representatives, 

I have now an opportunity to transmit to Congress a report 
of the Secretary of State, with a copy of an act of the legis- 


lature of the State of Kentucky, consenting to the ratification 
of the amendment of the Constitution of the United States, 
proposed by Congress in their resolution of the second day of 
December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, rela- 
tive to the suability of States. This amendment having been 
adopted by three fourths of the several States, may now be 
declared to be a part of the Constitution of the United States. 

John Adams. 

rei, ative to a french privateer. 

5 February, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

I have received a letter from his Excellency Charles Pinckney, 
Esquire, Governor of the State of South Carolina, dated on 
the twenty-second of October, 1797, inclosing a number of 
depositions of witnesses to several captures and outrages com- 
mitted within and near the limits of the United States by a 
French privateer belonging to Cape Francois or Monte Christo, 
called the Vertitude or Fortitude, and commanded by a person 
of the name of Jordon or Jourdain, and particularly upon an 
English merchant ship, named the Oracabissa, which he first 
plundered, and then burned with the rest of her cargo of great 
value, within the territory of the United States, in the harbor 
of Charleston, on the seventeenth day of October last, copies of 
which letter and depositions, and also of several other deposi- 
tions relative to the same subject, received from the collector 
of Charleston, are herewith communicated. 

Whenever the channels of diplomatical communication be- 
tween the United States and France shall be opened, I shall 
demand satisfaction for the insult and reparation for the injury. 

I have transmitted these papers to Congress, not so much for 
the purpose of communicating an account of so daring a viola- 
tion of the territory of the United States, as to show the pro- 
priety and necessity of enabling the executive authority of 
government to take measures for protecting the citizens of the 
United States, and such foreigners as have a right to enjoy their 


peace and the protection of their laws within their limits, in 
that as well as some other harbors, which are equally exposed. 

John Adams. 

transmitting despatches from france. 

5 March, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

The first despatches from our envoys extraordinary, since 
their arrival at Paris, were received at the Secretary of State's 
office, at a late hour the last evening. They are all in a cha- 
racter, which will require some days to be deciphered, except 
the last, which is dated the eighth of January, 1798. The 
contents of this letter are of so much importance to be imme- 
diately made known to Congress and to the public, especially 
to the mercantile part of our fellow-citizens, that I have thought 
it my duty to communicate them to both Houses, without loss 
of time. 

John Adams. 


transmitting despatches from FRANCE. 

19 March, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen op the House of Representatives, 

Tlie despatches from the envoys extraordinary of the United 
States to the French republic, which were mentioned in my 
message to both houses of Congress of the fifth instant, have 
been examined and maturely considered. 

"While I feel a satisfaction in informing you that their exer- 
tions for the adjustment of the differences between the two 
nations have been sincere and unremitted, it is incumbent on 
me to declare, that I perceive no ground of expectation that the 
objects of their mission can be accomplished on terms compatible 
with the safety, honor, or the essential interests of the nation . 

OFFICIAL. . 157 

This result cannot with justice be attributed to any want of 
moderation on the part of this government, or to any indisposi- 
tion to forego secondary interests for the preservation of peace. 
Knowing it to be my duty and believing it to be your wish, as 
well as that of the great body of the people, to avoid, by all 
reasonable concessions, any participation in the contentions of 
Europe, the powers vested in our envoys were commensurate 
with a liberal and pacific policy, and that high confidence which 
might justly be reposed in the abilities, patriotism, and integrity 
of the characters to whom the negotiation was committed. 
After a careful review of the whole subject, with the aid of all 
the information I have received, I can discern nothing, which 
could have insured or contributed to success, that has been 
omitted on my part, and nothing further which can be attempted, 
consistently with maxims for which our country has contended 
at every hazard, and which constitute the basis of our national 

Under these circumstances I cannot forbear to reiterate the 
recommendations which have been formerly made, and to ex- 
hort you to adopt, wuth promptitude, decision, and unanimity, 
such measures as the ample resources of the country aftbrd, for 
the protection of our seafaring and commercial citizens, for the 
defence of any exposed portions of our territory, for replenish- 
ing our arsenals, establishing founderies and military manufac- 
tories, and to provide such efficient revenue as will be neces- 
sary to defray exti*aordinary expenses, and supply the deficiencies 
which may be occasioned by depredations on our commerce. 

The present state of things is so essentially diflfercnt from 
that in which insti'uctions were given to collectors to restrain 
vessels of the United States from sailing in an armed condition, 
that the principle on which those orders were issued, has ceased 
to exist. I therefore deem it proper to inform Congress, that I 
no longer conceive myself justifiable in continuing them, unless 
in particular cases, where there may be reasonable ground of 
suspicion that such vessels are intended to be employed con- 
trary to law. 

In all your proceedings, it will be important to manifest a 
zeal, vigor, and concert, in defence of the national rights, pro- 
portioned to the danger with which they are threatened. 

John Adams. 

VOL. IX. 14 




3 Apkil, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

In compliance with the request of the House of Representa- 
tives, expressed in their resolution of the second of this month, 
I transmit to both houses those instructions to and despatches 
from the envoys extraordinary to the French republic, which 
were mentioned in my message of the nineteenth of March 
last, omitting only some names and a few expressions descrip- 
tive of the persons. 

I request that they may be considered in confidence, until 
the members of Congress are fully possessed of their contents, 
and shall have had opportunity to deliberate on the conse- 
quences of their publication ; after which time, I submit them 
to your wisdom. 

John Adams. 



21 June, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

While I congratulate you on the arrival of General Marshall, 
one of our late envoys extraordinary to the French republic, at 
a place of safety, where he is justly held in honor, I think it 
my duty to communicate to you a letter received by him from 
Mr. Gerry, the only one of the three who has not received his 
cong-e. This letter, together with another from the minister of 
foreign relations to him, of the third of April, and his answer 
of the fourth, will show the situation in which he remains, his 
intentions, and prospects. 

I presume that before this time he has received fresh instruc- 


tions (a copy of which accompanies this message) to consent 
to no loans ; and therefore the negotiation may be considered 
at an end. 

I will never send another minister to France, without assur- 
ances that he will be received, respected, and honored as the 
representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation. 

John Adams. 

transmitting a letter from george washington. 

17 July, 1798. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

Believing that the letter received this morning from Genera 
Washington will give high satisfaction to the Senate, I trans- 
mit them a copy of it, and congratulate them and the public 
on this great event, the General's acceptance of his appoint- 
ment as Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-chief of the 

John Adams. 

respecting certain acts of british naval officers. 

8 January, 1799. 

In compliance with your desire, expressed in your resolution 
of the 2d of this month, I lay before you an extract of a letter 
from George C. Morton, acting consul of the United States at 
the Havana, dated the 18th of November, 1798, to the Secretary 
of State, with a copy of a letter from him to L. Trezevant and 
William Timmons, Esquires, with their answer. Although 
your request extends no further than such information as has 
been received, yet it may be a satisfaction to you to know, that 
as soon as this intelligence was communicated to me, circular 
orders were given by my direction to all the commanders of our 
vessels of war, a copy of which is also herewith transmitted. I 


also directed this intelligence and these orders to be communi- 
cated to his Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minis- 
ter plenipotentiary to the United States, and to om- minister 
plenipotentiary to the court of Great Britain, with instructions 
to him to make the proper representation to that government 
upon this subject. 

It is but justice to say, that this is the first instance of mis- 
behavior of any of the British officers towards our vessels of 
war, that has come to my knowledge. According to all the 
representations that I have seen, the flag of the United States, 
and their officers and men, have been treated by the civil and 
military authority of the British nation, in Nova Scotia, the 
"West India islands, and on the ocean, with uniform civility., 
politeness, and friendship. I have no doubt that this first in 
stance of misconduct will be readily corrected. 

John Adams. 


To the Com7nanders of Armed Vessels in the Service of the 
United States, g-iven at the Navy Department, December 29th. 

Sir, — It is the positive command of the President that on 
no pretence whatever you permit the public vessel of war under 
your command to be detained or searched, nor any of the officers 
or men belonging to her to be taken from her, by the ships or 
vessels of any foreign nation, so long as you are in a capacity 
to repel such outrage on the honor of the American flag. If 
force should be exerted to compel your submission, you are to 
resist that force to the utmost of your power, and when over- 
powered by superior force, you are to strike your flag, and thus 
yield your vessel as well as your men ; but never your men 
without your vessel. 

You will remember, however, that your demeanor be respect- 
ful and friendly to the vessels and people of all nations in amity 
with the United States ; and that you avoid as carefully the 
commission of, as the submission to, insult or injury. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 

Ben. Stoddert. 



teans hitting a french decree respecting- 
neutral sailors. 

28 January, 1799. 

An edict of the executive directory of the French republic of 
the 29th of October, 1798, inclosed in a letter from our minister 
plenipotentiary in London, of the 16th of November, is of so 
much importance, that it cannot be too soon communicated to 
you and the public. 

John Adams. 



15 February, 1799. 

In pursuance of the request in your resolve of yesterday, I 
lay before you such information as I have received, touching a 
suspension of the arret of the French republic communicated 
to your house by my message of the 28th of January last. But 
if the execution of that arret be suspended, or even if it were 
repealed, it should be remembered that the arret of the executive 
directory of the 2d of March, 1797, remains in force, the third 
article of which subjects, explicitly and exclusively, American 
seamen to be treated as pirates, if found on board ships of the 
enemies of France. 

John Adams. 


nominating an envoy to france. 

18 February, 1799. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

I transmit to you a document, which seems to be intended 
to be a compliance with a condition mentioned at the conclu- 
sion of my message to Congress of the twenty-first of June last. 

14* K 


Always disposed and ready to embrace every plausible ap- 
pearance of probability of preserving or restoring tranquillity, I 
nominate William Vans Murray, our minister resident at the 
Hague, to be minister plenipotentiary of the United States to 
the French republic. 

If the Senate shall advise and consent to his appointment, 
effectual care shall be taken in his instructions that he shall 
not go to France without direct and unequivocal assurances 
from the French government, signified by their minister of 
foreign relations, that he shall be received in character, shall 
enjoy the privileges attached to his character by the law of 
nations, and that a minister of equal rank, title, and powers, 
shall be appointed to treat with him, to discuss and conclude 
all controversies between the two republics by a new treaty. 

John Adams. 



25 February, 1799. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

The proposition of a fresh negotiation with France, in con- 
sequence of advances made by the French government, has 
excited so general an attention and so much conversation, as to 
have given occasion to many manifestations of the public 
opinion ; from which it appears to me that a new modification 
of the embassy will give more general satisfaction to the legis- 
lature and to the nation, and perhaps better answer the purposes 
we have in view. 

It is upon this supposition and with this expectation that I 
now nominate 

Oliver Ellsworth, Esquire, Chief Justice of the United States; 

Patrick Henry, Esquire, late Governor of Virginia ; and 

William Vans Murray, Esquire, our minister resident at the 
Hague ; to be envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary 
to the French republic, with full powers to discuss and settle, 
by a treaty, all controversies between the United States and 


It is not intended that the two former of these gentlemen 
shall embark for Europe, until they shall have received, from the 
Executive Directory, assurances, signified by their secretary of 
foreign relations, that they shall be received in character, that 
they shall enjoy all the prerogatives attached to that character 
by the law of nations, and that a minister or ministers, of equal 
powers, shall be appointed and commissioned to treat with them. 

John Adams. 

announcing the decease of george washington. 

19 December, 1799. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, and 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

The letter herewith transmitted will inform you that it has 
pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life our excellent 
fellow-citizen, George Washington, by the purity of his charac- 
ter and a long series of services to his country, rendered illus- 
trious through the world. It remains for an affectionate and 
grateful people, in whose hearts he can never die, to pay suit- 
able honors to his memory. 

John Adams. 

Mount Vernon, 15 December, 1799. 

Sir, — It is with inexpressible grief that I have to announce 
to you the death of the great and good General Washington. 
He died last evening, between ten and eleven o'clock, after a 
short illness of about twenty hours. His disorder was an in- 
flammatory sore throat, which proceeded from a cold, of which 
he made but little complaint on Friday. On Saturday morn- 
ing, about three o'clock, he became ill. Doctor Craik attended 
him in the morning, and Doctor Dick, of Alexandria, and Doctor 
Brown, of Port Tobacco, were soon after called in. Every 
medical assistance was offered, but without the desired effect. 
His last scene corresponded with the whole tenor of his life ; 
not a groan, nor a complaint escaped him in extreme distress. 


With perfect resignation, and in full possession of his reason, 
he closed his well-spent life. 

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect. Sir, your 
most obedient and very humble servant. 

Tobias Lear. 

transmitting a i, etter of martha washington. 

6 January, 1800. 

Gentlemen op the Senate, and 

Gentlemen op the House op Eepresentatives, 

In compliance with the request in one of the resolutions of 
Congress, of the 21st of December last, I transmitted a copy of 
those resolutions by my Secretary, Mr. Shaw, to Mrs. Washing- 
ton, asisuring her of the profound respect Congress will ever 
bear to her person and character, of their condolence in the 
late afflicting dispensation of Providence, and entreating her 
assent to the interment of the remains of General George 
Washington, in the manner expressed in the first resolution. 
As the sentiments of that virtuous lady, not less beloved by this 
nation than she is at present greatly afflicted, can never be so 
well expressed as in her own words, I transmit to Congress her 
original letter. 

It would be an attempt of too much delicacy to make any 
comments upon it; but there can be no doubt that the nation 
at large, as well as all the branches of the government, will be 
highly gratified by any arrangement which may diminish the 
sacrifice she makes of her individual feelings. 

John Adams. 

Mount Vernon, 31 December, 1799. 

Sir, — While I feel with keenest anguish the late dispensa- 
tion of Divine Providence, I cannot be insensible to the mourn- 
ful tributes of respect and veneration, which are paid to the 
memory of my dear deceased husband ; and as his best services 
and most anxious wishes were always devoted to the welfare 


and happiness of his country, to know that they were truly 
appreciated and gratefully remembered, affords no inconsider- 
able consolation. 

Taught by that great example which I have so long had 
before me, never to oppose my private wishes to the public 
will, I must consent to the request made by Congress, which 
you have had the goodness to transmit to me ; and in doing 
this I need not, I cannot say what a sacrifice of individual 
feeling I make to a sense of public duty. 

With grateful acknowledgments and unfeigned thanks for 
the personal respect and evidences of condolence expressed by 
Congress and yourself, I remain very respectfully. Sir, your 
most obedient, humble servant, 

Martha "Washington. 



14 January, 1800. 

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, 

As the inclosed letter from a member of your House, re- 
ceived by me in the night of Saturday, the 11th instant, relates 
to the privileges of the House, which, in my opinion, ought to 
be inquired into in the House itself, if any where, I have thought 
proper to submit the whole letter and its tendencies to your 
consideration, without any other comments on its matter or 
style. But as no gross impropriety of conduct, on the part of 
persons holding commissions in the army or navy of the United 
States, ought to pass without due animadversion, I have directed 
the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to inves- 
tigate the conduct complained of, and to report to me, without 
delay, such a statement of facts as will enable me to decide on 
the course which duty and justice shall appear to prescribe. 

John Adams. 


transmitting a report of the secretary of state. 

21 January, 1801. 

Gentlemen of the Senate, 

In compliance with your request, signified in your resolution 
of the twentieth day of this month, I transmit you a report, made 
to me by the Secretary of State on the same day, a letter of our 
late envoys to him of the 4th of October last, an extract of a 
letter from our minister plenipotentiary in London to him, of 
the 22d of November last, and an extract of another letter from 
the minister to the secretary of the 31st of October last. 

The reasoning in the letter of our late envoys to France is so 
fully supported by the writers on the law of nations, particu- 
larly by Vattel, as well as by his great masters, Grotius and 
Pufendorf, that nothing is left to be desired to settle the point, 
that if there be a collision between two treaties, made with 
two different powers, the more ancient has the advantage ; for 
no engagement contrary to it can be entered into in the treaty 
afterwards made; and if this last be found, in any case, incom- 
patible wath the more ancient one, its execution is considered 
as impossible, because the person promising had not the power 
of acting contrary to his antecedent engagement. Although 
our right is very clear to negotiate treaties according to our 
own ideas of right and justice, honor and good faith, yet it 
must always be a satisfaction to know that the judgment of 
other nations, with whom we have connection, coincides with 
ours, and that we have no reason to apprehend that any dis- 
agreeable questions and discussions are likely to arise. The 
letters from Mr. King will, therefore, be read by the Senate 
with particular satisfaction. 

The inconveniences to public officers, and the mischiefs to 
the public, arising from the publication of the despatches of 
ministers abroad, are so numerous and so obvious, that I request 
of the Senate that these papers, especially the letters from Mr. 
King, be considered in close confidence. 

John Adams. 




2 March, 1801. 

Gentlemen op the Senate, 

I have considered the advice and consent of the Senate to 
the ratification of the convention with France, under certain 
conditions. Although it would have been more conformable to 
my own judgment and inclination to have agreed to that instru- 
ment unconditionally, yet, as in this point I found I had the 
misfortune to differ in opinion from so high a constitutional 
authority as the Senate, I judged it more consistent with the 
honor and interest of the United States to ratify it under the 
conditions prescribed, than not at all. I accordingly nominated 
Mr. Bayard, minister plenipotentiary to the French republic, 
that he might proceed without delay to Paris to negotiate the 
exchange of ratifications ; but as that gentleman has declined 
his appointment for reasons equally applicable to every other 
person suitable for the service, I shall take no further measures 
relative to this business, and leave the convention with all the 
documents in the office of State, that my successor may pro- 
ceed with them according to his wisdom. 

John Adams. 


for an extraordinary session of congress. 

25 March, 1797. 

Whereas the Constitution of the United States of America 
provides that the President may, on extraordinary occasions, 
convene both houses of Congress ; and whereas an extraordi- 
nary occasion exists for convening Congress, and divers great 
and weighty matters claim their consideration, I have therefore 
thought it necessary to convene, and I do by these presents 
convene the Congress of the United States of America, at the 
city of Philadelphia, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on 
Monday, the fifteenth day of May next, hereby requiring the 
senators and representatives in the Congress of the United 
States of America, and every of them, that, laying aside all 
other matters and cares, they then and there meet and assemble 
in Congress, in order to consult and determine on such mea- 
sures as in their wisdom shall be deemed meet for the safety and 
welfare of the said United States. 

In testimony whereof, &c. 

John Adams. 

^ Such of tlie proclamations have been selected as are connected with the 
extraordinary measures of tliis administration. With regard to the mode of 
arranging this portion of the work, nothing can be added to the rules laid down 
in Sparks's Washington ; Introduction to the fifth part. vol. xii. p. vii. 


for a national fast. 

23 March, 1798. 

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essen- 
tially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God ; 
and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an 
indispensable duty, which the people owe to him, but a duty 
whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that 
morality and piety, without which social happiness cannot 
exist, nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed ; and as 
this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of 
difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, 
the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud 
call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States 
of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive 
situation, by the unfriendly disposition, condn-ct, and demands 
of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our 
messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our 
commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our 
fellow-citizens, while engaged in their lawful business on the 
seas ; — under these considerations, it has appeared to me that 
the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on 
our country, demands at this time a special attention from its 

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby 
recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be 
observed throughout the United States, as a day of solemn 
humiliation, fasting and prayer; that the citizens of these 
States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly 
occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of mercies, 
agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally 
adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious 
congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before 
God the manifold sins and transgressipns with which we are 
justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation ; beseeching 
him at the same time, of his infinite grace, through the Redeemer 
of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, 

VOL. IX. 15 


by his Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation 
which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor 
and heavenly benediction ; that it be made the subject of parti- 
cular and earnest supplication, that our country may be protected 
from all the dangers which threaten it, that our civil and reli- 
gious privileges may be preserved inviolate, and perpetuated to 
the latest generations, that our public councils and magistrates 
may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period, 
that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity 
and mutual confidence, and inspired with that vigor and forti- 
tude by which they have in times past been so highly distin- 
guished, and by which they have obtained such invaluable 
advantages, that the health of the inhabitants of our land may 
be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and 
manufactures, be blessed and prospered, that the principles of 
genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and 
govern the lives of every description of our citizens, and that 
the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion, may be 
speedily extended to all the nations of the earth. 

And finally I recommend, that on the said day, the duties of 
humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving 
to the bestower of every good gift, not only for having hitherto 
protected and preserved the people of these United States in 
the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, 
but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of 
population, and for conferring on them many and great favors 
conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation. 

Given, &c. 

John Adams. 

revoking the exequaturs op the french consuls. 

13 July, 1798. 

The citizen Joseph Philippe Letombe having heretofore pro- 
duced to the President of the United States his commission 
as consul-general of the French republic, within the United 
States of America, and another commission as consul of the 


French republic at Philadelphia ; and, in like manner, the citizen 
Rosier having produced his commission as vice-consul of the 
French republic at New York ; and the citizen Arcambal hav- 
ing produced his commission as vice-consul of the French 
republic at Newport; and citizen Theodore Charles Mozard 
having produced his commission as consul of the French re- 
public within the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and 
Rhode Island ; and the President of the United States having 
thereupon granted an exequatur to each of the French citizens 
above named, recognizing them in their respective consular 
offices above mentioned, and declaring them respectively free to 
exercise and enjoy such functions, powers, and privileges as are 
allowed to a consul-general, consuls, and vice-consuls of the 
French republic, by their treaties, conventions, and laws in that 
case made and provided; — and the Congress of the United 
States, by their act, passed the seventh day of July, 1798, hav- 
ing declared, " That the United States are of right freed and 
exonerated from the stipulations of the treaties, and of the 
consular convention heretofore concluded between the United 
States and France ; and that the same shall not henceforth be 
regarded as legally obligatory on the government or citizens of 
the United States," and by a former act, passed the 13th day 
of May, 1798, the Congress of the United States having " sus- 
pended the commercial intercourse between the United States 
and France, and the dependencies thereof," which commercial 
intercourse was the direct and chief object of the consular 

And whereas actual hostilities have long been practised on 
the commerce of the United States by the cruisers of the French 
republic under the orders of its government, which orders that 
government refuses to revoke or relax ; and hence it has become 
improper any longer to allow the consul-general, consuls, and 
vice-consuls of the French republic, above named, or any of its 
consular persons or agents heretofore admitted in these United 
States, any longer to exercise their consular functions; — these 
are therefore to declare, that I do no longer recognize the said 
citizen Letombe as consul-general, or consul, nor the said 
citizens Rosier and Arcambal as vice-consuls, nor the said 
citizen Mozard as consul of the French republic, in any part of 
these United States, nor permit them or any other consular 


persons or agents of the French republic, heretofore admitted in 
the United States, to exercise their functions as such ; and 1 do 
hereby wholly revoke the exequaturs heretofore given to them 
respectively, and do declare them absolutely null and void, from 
this day forward. 

In testimony whereof, &c. 

John Adams. 

for a national fast. 

6 March, 1799. 

As no truth is more clearly taught in the volume of inspiration, 
nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, 
than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the 
governing providence of a Supreme Being, and of the account- 
ableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous 
distributor of rewards and punishments, are conducive equally 
to the happiness and rectitude of individuals, and to the well- 
being of communities ; as it is, also, most reasonable in itself, 
that men who are made capable of social acts and relations, 
who owe their improvements to the social state, and who derive 
their enjoyments from it, should, as a society, make their 
acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him, who 
hath endowed them with these capacities, and elevated them 
in the scale of existence by these distinctions ; as it is, likewise, 
a plain dictate of duty, and a strong sentiment of nature, that 
in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent 
danger, earnest and particular supplications should be made to 
Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the 
most precious interests of the people of the United States are 
still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts 
of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them 
of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious, 
moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable 
mischief and misery in other countries ; and as, in fine, the 
observance of special seasons for public religious solemnities. 


is happily calculated to avert the evils which wc ought to de- 
precate, and to excite to the performance of the duties which 
we ought to discharge, by calling and fixing the attention of 
the people at large to the momentous truths already recited, by 
affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them, by animating 
devotion, and giving to it the character of a national act : 

For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and 
I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty- 
fifth day of April next, be observed, throughout the United 
States of America, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and 
prayer ; that the citizens, on that day, abstain as far as may be 
from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred 
duties of religion, in public and in private ; that they call to 
mind our numerous oiTences against the most high God, confess 
them before him with the sincerest penitence, implore his par- 
doning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for 
our past transgressions, and that, through the grace of his Holy 
Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable 
obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come ; that he 
would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licen- 
tiousness in principle and practice, so offensive to himself and 
so ruinous to mankind ; that he would make us deeply sen- 
sible, that " righteousness exalteth a nation, but that sin is the 
reproach of any people " ; that he would turn us from our trans- 
gressions, and turn his displeasure from us ; that he would 
withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from disunion, fac- 
tion, sedition, and insurrection ; that he would preserve our 
country from the desolating sword ; that he would save our 
cities and towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential 
visitations under which they have lately suftered so severely, 
and that the health of our inhabitants, generally, may be pre- 
cious in his sight; that he would favor us with fruitful seasons, 
and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there may 
be food in abundance for man and beast; that he would prosper 
our commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to 
the people in all their lawful industry and enterprise ; that ho 
would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries 
of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, 
and religion ; that he would bless all magistrates from the 
highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, 


make them a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do 
well ; that he would preside over the councils of the nation at 
this critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of 
the public interest, and save them from mistake, division, and 
discord ; that he would make succeed our preparations for 
defence, and bless our armaments by land and by sea ; that he 
would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the 
accumulation of human misery among the contending nations 
of the earth, by disposing them to justice, to equity, to bene- 
volence, and to peace ; and that he would extend the blessings 
of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion, 
throughout the world. 

And I do, also, recommend that, with these acts of humilia- 
tion, penitence, and prayer, fervent thanksgiving to the author 
of all good be united, for the countless favors which he is still 
continuing to the people of the United States, and which render 
their condition as a nation eminently happy, when compared 
with the lot of others. 

Given, &c. 

John Adams. 

concerning the insurrection in pennsylvania. 

12 March, 1799. 

Whereas, combinations to defeat the execution of the law 
for the valuation of lands and dwelling-houses within the United 
States, have existed in the counties of Northampton, Mont- 
gomery, and Bucks, in the State of Pennsylvania, and have 
proceeded in a manner subversive of the just authority of the 
government, by misrepresentations to render the laws odious, 
by deterring the officers of the United States to forbear the 
execution of their functions, and by openly threatening their 
lives : And whereas, the endeavors of the well-affected citizens, 
as well as of the executive officers, to conciliate a compliance 
with those laws, have failed of success, and certain persons in 
the county of Northampton, aforesaid, have been hardy enough 
to perpetrate certain acts, which, I am advised, amount to 


treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United 
States, the said persons, exceeding one hundred in number, and, 
armed and arrayed in a warlike manner, having, on the seventh 
day of the present month of March, proceeded to the house of 
Abraham Lovering, in the town of Bethlehem, and there com- 
pelled William Nicholas, Marshal of the United States, and 
for the district of Pennsylvania, to desist from the execution of 
certain legal processes in his hands to be executed, and having 
compelled him to discharge and set at liberty certain persons 
whom he had arrested by virtue of a criminal process, duly issued 
for offences against the United States, and having impeded and 
prevented the commissioners and assessors, in conformity with 
the laws aforesaid, in the county of Northampton aforesaid, by 
threats of personal injury, from executing the said laws, avow- 
ing as the motive of these illegal and treasonable proceedings 
an intention to prevent, by force of arms, the execution of the 
said laws, and to withstand by open violence the lawful author- 
ity of the government of the United States. And whereas, by 
the Constitution and laws of the United States, I am author- 
ized, whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, 
or the execution thereof obstructed, in any State, by combina- 
tions too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of 
judicial proceedings or by powers vested in the marshal, to call 
forth military force to suppress such combinations, and to cause 
the laws to be duly executed ; and I have accordingly deter- 
mined so to do, under the solemn conviction that the essential 
interests of the United States demand it. Wherefore I, John 
Adams, President of the United States, do hereby command all 
persons being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others whom it 
may concern, on or before Monday next, being the eighteenth 
day of this present month, to disperse and retire peaceably to 
their respective abodes. And I do, moreover, warn all persons 
whomsoever, against aiding, abetting, or comforting the perpe- 
trators of the aforesaid treasonable acts, and I do require all 
officers and others, good and faithful citizens, according to their 
respective duties and the laws of the land, to exert their utmost 
endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous and unlaw- 
ful proceedings. 

In testimony whereof, &c. 

John Adams. 


opening the trade with certain ports of st. domingo. 

26 June, 1799. 

Whereas, by an act of the Congress of the United States, 
passed the 9th day of February last, entitled "An act further to 
suspend the commercial intercourse between the United States 
and France, and the dependencies thereof," it is provided, that 
at any time after the passing of this act, it shall be lawful for 
the President of the United States, if he shall deem it expedient 
and consistent with the interest of the United States, by his 
order, to remit and discontinue for the time being the restraints 
and prohibitions by the said act imposed, either with respect to 
the French republic, or to any island, port, or place, belonging 
to the said republic, with which a commercial intercour.-<e may 
safely be renewed ; and also to revoke such order, whenever in 
his opinion the interest of the United States shall require ; and 
he is authorized to make proclamation thereof accordingly ; 

And whereas the arrangements which have been made at 
St. Dom.ingo for the safety of the commerce of the United States, 
and for the admission of American vessels into certain ports of 
that island, do, in my opinion render it expedient and for the 
interest of the United States to renew a commercial intercourse 
with such ports ; 

Therefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, by 
virtue of the powers vested in me by the above recited act, do 
hereby remit and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions 
therein contained, within the limits and under the regulations 
here following, to wit : 

1. It shall be lawful for vessels which have departed or may 
depart from the United States, to enter the ports of Cape Fran- 
cois and Port Republicain, formerly called Port-au-Prince, in 
the said island of St. Domingo, on and after the first day of 
August next.i 

2. No vessel shall be cleared for any other port in St. Do- 
mingo than Cape Francois and Port Republicain. 

1 A mistake was made here by the Secretary of State. The first of August 
was the date of departure from the United States. See vol. viii. p. 661, note. 


3. It shall be lawful for vessels which shall enter the said 
ports of Cape Francois and Port Republicain, after the thirty- 
first day of July next, to depart from thence to any port in said 
island between Monte Christi on the north and Petit Goave on 
the west ; provided it be done with the consent of the govern- 
ment of St. Domingo, and pursuant to certificates or passports 
expressing such consent, signed by the consul-general of the 
United States, or consul residing at the port of departure. 

4. All vessels sailing in contravention of these regulations 
will be out of the protection of the United States, and be more- 
over liable to capture, seizure, and confiscation. 

Given under, &c. 

John Adams. 

opening the trade with other ports of st. domingo. 

9 May, 1800. 

Whereas, by an act of Congress of the United States, passed 
the 27th day of February last, entitled "An act further to sus- 
pend the commercial intercourse between the United States 
and France and the dependencies thereof," it is enacted. That, 
any time after the passing of the said act, it shall be lawful for 
the President of the United States, by his order, to remit and 
discontinue for the time being, whenever he shall deem it ex- 
pedient and for the interest of the United States, all or any of 
the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the said act, in respect 
to the territories of the French republic, or to any island, port, or 
place, belonging to the said republic, with w^hich, in his opinion, 
a commercial intercourse may be safely renewed ; and to make 
proclamation thereof accordingly ; and it is also thereby further 
enacted. That the whole of (lie island of Hispaniola shall, for_ 
the purposes of the said act, be considered as a dependence of 
the French republic. And whereas the circumstances of certain 
ports and places of the said island not comprised in the procla- 
mation of the 26th day of June, 1799, are such that I deem it 
expedient, and for the interest of the United States, to remit 
and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the 


said act, in respect to those ports and places, in order that a 
commercial intercourse with the same may be renewed; — 

Therefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, by 
virtue of the powers vested in me as aforesaid, do hereby remit 
and discontinue the restraints and prohibitions imposed by the 
act aforesaid, in respect to all the ports and places in the said 
island of Hispaniola, from Monte Christi on the north, round 
by the eastern end thereof, as far as the port of Jacmel, on the 
south, inclusively. And it shall henceforth be lawful for vessels^ 
_of the United States to enter and trade at any of the said ports 
and places, provided it be done with the consent of the govern- 
ment of St. Domingo, And for this purpose it is hereby required 
that such vessels first enter the port of Cape Francois or Port 
Republicain, in the said island, and there obtain the passports of 
the said government, which shall also be signed by the consul- 
general or consul of the United States residing at Cape Fran- 
cois or Port Republicain, permitting such vessel to go thence 
to the other ports and places of the said island herein before 
mentioned and described. Of all which the collectors of the 
customs and all other officers and citizens of the United States 
are to take due notice, and govern themselves. 

In testimony, &c. 

John Adams. 

granting pardon to the pennsylvania insurgents. 

21 May, 1800. 

Whereas, the late wicked and treasonable insurrection against 
the just authority of the United States, of sundry persons in the 
counties of Northampton, Montgomery, and Bucks, in the State 
of Pennsylvania, in the year 1799, having been speedily sup- 
pressed, without any of the calamities usually attending rebel- 
lion; whereupon peace, order, and submission to the laws of 
the United States were restored in the aforesaid counties, and 
the ignorant, misguided, and misinformed in the counties, have 
returned to a proper sense of their duty ; whereby it is become 
unnecessary for the public good that any future prosecutions 


should be commenced or carried on against any person or per- 
sons, by reason of their being concerned in the said insurrec- 
tion : — wherefore be it known, that I, John Adams, President 
of the United States of America, have granted, and by these 
presents do grant, a full, free, and absolute pardon, to all and 
every person or persons concerned in the said insurrection, ex- 
cepting as hereinafter excepted, of all treasons, misprisions of 
treason, felonies, misdemeanors, and other crimes by them 
respectively done or committed against the United States, in 
either of the said counties, before the twelfth day of March in 
the year 1799 ; excepting and excluding therefrom every person 
who now standeth indicted or convicted of any treason, mis- 
prision of treason, or other offence against the United States; 
whereby remedying and releasing unto all persons, except as 
before excepted, all pains and penalties incurred or supposed to 
be incurred for or on account of the premises. 

Given, &c. 

John Adams. 


The number of addresses made to the President during the excitement 
occasioned by the apprehension of a war with France, was very great. They 
now fill a large box, many of them having long rolls of signatures attached. A 
portion of them, with the answei's, were collected and published at Boston in a 
volume dedicated to the French Directory, In 1798. Of course, it is not pos- 
sible to embrace in this work more than those answers which, for some particular 
reason, appear deserving to be included. In some of these cases it has not been 
possible to find the exact date of their composition. 

to the american academy of arts and sciences. 

23 August, 1797. 


Meeting with you at a regular period established by law, I 
expected nothing more than those habitual expressions of your 
friendship, which I have constantly received as one of your 
associates, upon all such occasions.^ This elegant address, 
therefore, as it was not foreseen, is the more acceptable. Com- 
ing from gentlemen whose fame for science and literature, as 
well as for every civil and political virtue, is not confined to a 
single State, nor to one quarter of the world, it does me great 
honor. Your congratulations on my election to the office of 
first magistrate, in a nation where the rights of men are respected 
and truly supported, deserve my best thanks. 

The commands of the public have obliged me to reside in 
foreign countries and distant States for almost the whole period 
of the existence of our academy ; but no part of my time has 
ever been spent with more real satisfaction to myself than the 

1 Mr. Adams was the President of the Academy. 


few hours, which the course of events has permitted me to pass 
in your society. 

Your exertions at home and extensive correspondences abroad 
are every day adding to the Ivnowledge of our country, and its 
improvement in useful arts; and I have only to regret that 
indispensable avocations have prevented me from assisting in 
your labors and endeavoring to share in the glory of your suc- 

The unanimity with which the members of this academy, as 
well as of the university at Cambridge, and the whole body of 
the clergy of this commonwealth, (all so happily connected 
together,) are attached to the union of our American States, 
their constitutions of government, and the federal administra- 
tion, is the happiest omen of the future peace, liberty, safety, 
and prosperity of our country. The rising generation of Ame- 
ricans, the most promising and perhaps the most important 
youth which the human species can boast, educated in such 
principles and under such examples, cannot fail to answer the 
high expectations which the world has formed of their future 
wisdom, virtues, and energies. 

To succeed in the administration of the government of the 
United States, after a citizen, whose great talents, indefatigable 
exertions, and disinterested patriotism had carried the gratitude 
of his country and the applause of the world to the highest 
pitch, was indeed an arduous enterprise. It was not without 
much diffidence, and many anxious apprehensions that I engaged 
in the service. But it has been with inexpressible gratitude and 
pleasure that I have everywhere found, in my fellow-citizens, an 
almost universal disposition to alleviate the burden as much 
as possible, by the cheerful and generous support of their affec- 
tionate countenance and cordial approbation. Nothing of the 
kind has more tenderly touched me, than the explicit sanction 
you have been pleased to express of the measures I have hitherto 

Permit me, gentlemen, to join in your fervent prayers, that 
the incomprehensible Source of light and of power may direct 
us all, and crown with success all our efforts to promote the 
welfare of our country and the happiness of mankind. 

John Adams. 

VOL. IX. 1^ 




April, 1798. 


Never, as I can recollect, were any class of my fellow-citizens 
more welcome to me, on any occasion, than the mayor, alder- 
men, and citizens of the city of Philadelphia upon this. 

At a time, when all the old republics of Europe are crumbling 
into dust, and others forming, whose destinies are dubious ; 
when the monarchies of the old world are some of them fallen, 
and others trembling to their foundations ; when our own infant 
republic has scarcely had time to cement its strength or decide 
its own practicable form ; when these agitations of the human 
species have affected our people and produced a spirit of party, 
which scruples not to go all lengths of profligacy, falsehood, and 
malignity, in defaming our government; your approbation and 
confidence are to me a great consolation. Under your imme- 
diate observation and inspection, the principal operations of the 
government are directed, and to you, both characters and con- 
duct must be intimately known. 

I am but one of the American people, and my fate and for- 
tune must be decided with theirs. As far as the forces of 
nature may remain to me, I will not be wanting in my duties 
to them, nor will I harbor a suspicion that they will faU to 
afford me all necessary aid and support. 

While, with the greatest pleasure, I reciprocate your congi'a- 
tulations on the prospect of unanimity that now presents itself 
to the hopes of every American, and on that spirit of patriotism 
and independence that is rising into active exertion, in opposition 
to seduction, domination, and rapine, I offer a sincere prayer that 
the citizens of Philadelphia may persevere in the virtuous course 
and maintain the honorable character of their ancestors, and be 
protected from every calamity, physical, moral, and political. 

John Adams. 



26 April, 1798. 


Many of the nations of the earth, disgusted with their present 
governments, seem determined to dissolve them, without know- 
ing what other forms to substitute in their places. And ignorance, 
with all the cruel intolerance of the most bloody superstitions 
that ever have existed, is imposing its absurd dogmas by the 
sword, without the smallest attention to that emulation universal 
in the human heart, which is a great spring of generous action, 
when wisely regulated, but the never-failing source of anarchy 
and tyranny, when uncontrolled by the Constitution of the 
State. As the United States are a part of the society of 
mankind, and are closely connected with several nations now 
struggling in arms, the present period is indeed pregnant with 
events of the highest importance to their happiness and safety. 

In such a state of things your implicit approbation of the 
general system, and the particular measures of the government, 
your generous feelings of resentment at the wrongs and offences 
committed against it, and at the menaces of others still more 
intolerable, your candid acknowledgment of the blessings you 
enjoy under its free and equal Constitution, your determination 
at every hazard to maintain your freedom and independence, 
and to support the measures which may be thought necessary 
to support the Constitution, freedom, and independence of the 
United States, do you great honor as patriots and citizens ; and 
your communication of these spirited sentiments to me deserves 
my best thanks. 

John Adams 


30 April, 1798. 


The respectfal address from the inhabitants of Providence, 
who have been my friends and neighbors from my youth, was by 
no means necessary to convince me of their affectionate attach- 

Imagination can scarcely conceive a stronger contrast than 
has lately been disclosed between the views of France and those 
of the United States. I will not distinguish between the views 
of the government and those of the nations ; if in France they 
are different, the nation, whose right it is, will soon show they 
are so ; if in America they are the same, this fact also will be 
shown by the nation in a short time in a strong light. I can- 
not, however, see in this contrast a sufficient cause of disquiet- 
ing apprehensions of hostilities from that republic. Hostilities 
have already come thick upon us by surprise from that quarter. 
If others are coming, "we shall be better prepared to meet and 
repel them. 

When we were the first to acknowledge the legitimate origin 
of the French republic, we discovered at least as much zeal, 
sincerity, and honesty of heart, as we did of knowledge of the 
subject, or foresight of its consequences. The ill success of 
those proofs which the United States have given of their sincere 
desire to preserve an impartial neutrality, and of their repeated 
negotiations for redress of wrongs, have demonstrated that other 
means must be resorted to in order to obtain it. 

I agree entirely with you in acquitting in general those of our 
citizens who have too much attached themselves to European 
politics, of any treacherous defection from the cause of their 
country. The French revolution was a spectacle so novel, and 
the cause was so cora.plicated, that I have ever acknowledged 
myself incompetent to judge of it, as it concerned the happiness 
of France, or operated on that of mankind. My countrymen 
in general were, I believe, as ill qualified as myself to decide ; 
the French nation alone had the right and the capacity, and to 
them it should have been resigned. We should have suspended 


our judgments, and been as neutral and impartial between the 
parties in France as between the nations of Europe. 

The honor of our nation is now universally seen to be at 
stake, and its independence in question, and all America ap- 
pears to declare, with one heart and one voice, a manly deter- 
mination to vindicate both. 

The legislature, by the late publication of instructions and 
despatches, have appealed to the world ; and if the iron hand of 
power has not locked up the presses of Europe in such a man- 
ner that the facts cannot be communicated to mankind, the 
impartial sense and the voice of human nature must be in our 
favor. If perseverance in injustice should necessitate the last 
appeal, whatever causes we may have to humble ourselves 
before the supreme tribunal, we have none for any other senti- 
ment than the pride of virtue and honest indignation against 
the late conduct of France towards us. 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your personal civilities to me, 
and return your kind wishes for my happiness. 

Your noble declaration of your readiness, with your lives and 
fortunes, to support the dignity and independence of the United 
States, will receive the applause of your country, and of all who 
have the sentiments and feelings of men. 

John Adams. 

to the inhabitants op bridgeton, in the county of cum- 
berland, in the state of new jersey. 

1 May, 1798. 


To you, who disapprove of addresses of compliment in gene- 
ral, and of the interposition of constituents in the ordinary 
course of national affairs, my thanks are more particularly due 
for the part you have taken at this extraordinary crisis. 

In preparing the project of a treaty to be proposed by Con- 
gress to France, in the year 1776, fully apprised of the import- 
ance of neutrality, I prescribed to myself as a rule to admit 
nothing which could compromise the United States in any 



future wars of Europe. In the negotiations of peace in 1782, I 
saw stronger reasons than ever before in favor of that maxim. 

The wise and prudent measures adopted by my predecessor, 
to preserve and support a fair and impartial neutrality with the 
belligerent powers of Europe, coinciding with my own opinions 
and principles, more ancient than the birth of the United States, 
could not but be heartily approved and supported by me during 
his whole administration, and steadily pursued untU this time. 
It was, however, no part of the system of my predecessor, nor 
is it any article of my creed, that neutrality should be purchased 
with bribes, by the sacrifice of our sovereignty and the aban- 
donment of our independence, by the surrender of our moral 
character, by tarnishing our honor, by violations of public faith, 
or by any means humiliating to our own national pride, or dis- 
graceful in the eyes of the world ; nor will I be the instrument 
of procuring it on such terms. 

I thank you, gentlemen, for your candid approbation and 
your noble assurances of support. 

John Adams. 



2 May, 1798. 


I thank you for communicating to me this respectful addi'css. 

The sense you entertain of the conduct of a foreign nation, 
in threatening with destruction the freedom and independence 
of the United States, and representing the citizens of America 
as a divided people, is such as patriotism naturally and neces- 
sarily inspires. The fate of every republic in Europe, however, 
from Poland to Geneva, has given too much cause for such 
thoughts and projects in our enemies, and such apprehensions 
in our friends and ourselves. 

Republics are always divided in opinion, concerning forms 
of governments, and plans and details of administration. These 
divisions are generally harmless, often salutary, and seldom 
very hurtful, except when foreign nations interfere, and by their 


arts and agents excite and ferment them into parties and fac- 
tions. Such interference and influence must be resisted and 
exterminated, or it will end in America, as it did anciently in 
Greece, and in our own time in Europe, in our total destruction 
as a republican government and independent power. 

The liberal applause you bestow on the measures pursued 
by the government for the adjustment of differences and restora- 
tion of harmony, your resolutions of resistance in preference to 
submission to any foreign power, your confidence in the govern- 
ment, your recommendation of measures of defence of the 
country and protection of its commerce, and your generous 
resolution to submit to the expenses and temporary inconve- 
niences which may be necessary to preserve the sovereignty 
and freedom of the United States, are received with much 

John Adams. 

to the young men of the city of philadelphia, the dis- 
trict of southwark, and the northern liberties, 


7 May, 1798. 


Nothing of the kind could be more welcome to me than this 
address from the ingenuous youth of Philadelphia, in their vir- 
tuous anxiety to preserve the honor and independence of their 

For a long course of years, my amiable young friends, before 
the birth of the oldest of you, I was called to act with your 
fathers in concerting measures the most disagreeable and dan- 
gerous, not from a desire of innovation, not from discontent 
with the government under which we were born and bred, but 
to preserve the honor of our country, and vindicate the immemo- 
rial liberties of our ancestors. In pursuit of these measures, it 
became, not an object of predilection and choice, but of indis- 
pensable necessity to assert our independence, which, with many 
difficulties and much suffering, was at length secured. I have 
long flattered myself that I might be gathered to the ashes of 


my fathers, leaving unimpaired and unassailed the liberties so 
dearly pvirchased; and that I should never be summoned a 
second time to act in such scenes of anxiety, perplexity, and 
danger, as war of any kind always exhibits. If my good for- 
tune should not correspond with my earnest wishes, and I should 
be obliged to act with you, as with your ancestors, in defence 
of the honor and independence of our country, I sincerely wish 
that none of you may ever have your constancy of mind and 
strength of body put to so severe a trial, as to be compelled 
again in yovir advanced age to the contemplation and near 
prospect of any war of offence or defence. 

It would neither be consistent with my character, nor yours, 
on this occasion, to read lessons to gentlemen of your education, 
co;iduct, and character; if, however, I might be indulged the 
privilege of a father, I should with the tenderest affection 
recommend to your serious and constant consideration, that 
/ science and morals are the great pillars on which this country 
has been raised to its present population, opulence, and prospe- 
rity, and that these alone can advance, support, and preserve it. 

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity, or influence 
the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction, that, after the 
most industrious and impartial researches, the longest liver of 
you all will find no principles, institutions, or systems of educa- 
tion more fit, in general, to be transmitted to your posterity, than 
those you have received from your ancestors. 

No prospect or spectacle could excite a stronger sensibility in 
my bosom than this, which now presents itself before me. I 
wish you all the pure joys, the sanguine hopes, and bright pro- 
spects, which are decent at your age, and that your lives may 
be long, honorable, and prosperous, in the constant practice of 
benevolence to men and reverence to the Divinity, in a country 
persevering in liberty, and increasing in virtue, power, and glory. 

The sentiments of this address, everywhere expressed in lan- 
guage as chaste and modest as it is elegant and masterly, which 
would do honor to the youth of any country, have raised a 
monument to your fame more durable than brass and marble. 
The youth of all America must exult in this early sample, at 
the seat of government, of their talents, genius, and virtues. 

America and the world will look to our youth as one of our 
firmest bulwarks. The generous claim which you now present, 


of sharing in the difficulty, danger, and glory of our defence, is 
to me and to your country a sure and pleasing pledge, that your 
birth -rights will never be ignobly bartered or surrendered; but 
that you will in your turn transmit to future generations the 
fair inheritance obtained by the unconquerable spirit of your 

John Adams. 


7 ]May, 1798. 


I thank you for the declaration of your approbation of the 
measures adopted by me, relative to our foreign relations, to 
conciliate the French republic and to accommodate all existing 
difference upon terms compatible with the safety, the interest, 
and the dignity of the United States. 

Your high and elevated opinion of, and confidence in, the 
virtue, wisdom, and patriotism of the national government, and 
fixed resolution to support, at the risk of your lives and fortunes, 
such measures as may be determined to be necessary to pro- 
mote and secure the honor and happiness of the United States, 
do you honor, and are perfectly in character. 

It must, however, be a very unnatural and peculiar state of 
things to make it necessary or proper in you, or any other 
American in your behalf, to declare to the world, what the world 
ought to have known and acknowledged without hesitation, that 
you are not humiliated under a colonial sense of fear, that you 
are not a divided people in any point which involves the honor, 
safety, and essential rights of your country, that you know your 
rights, and are determined to support them. 

John Adams. 


to the inhabitants of the county of lancaster, 


8 May, 1798. 


This respectful and affectionate address from the wealthy, 
industrious, and independent proprietors of the county of Lan- 
caster, is as honorable as it is agreeable to me, and is returned 
with my hearty thanks. 

The attention you have given to a demand of a preliminary 
submission, acknowledging the commission of offence, requires 
an observation on my part. The Constitution of the United 
States makes it my duty to communicate to Congress from 
time to time information of the state of the Union, and to 
recommend to their consideration measures which appear to 
me necessary or expedient. While in discharge of this duty, I 
submit, with entire resignation, to the responsibility established 
in the Constitution, I hold myself accountable to no crowned 
head or Executive Directory, or other foreign power on earth, 
for the communications which my duty obliges me to make ; 
yet to you, my fellow-citizens, I will freely say, that in the case 
alluded to, the honor done, the publicity and solemnity given to 
the audience of leave to a disgraced minister, recalled in dis- 
pleasure for misconduct, was a studied insult to the government 
of my country. 

The observations made by me were mild and moderate in a 
degree far beyond what the provocation would have justified ; 
and if the American people or their government could have 
borne it without resentment, offered as it was in the face of all 
all the world, they must have been fit to be the tributary dupes 
they have since been so coolly invited to become. 

As I know not where a better choice of envoys could have 
been made, I thank you for your approbation of their appoint- 
ment and applause of their conduct. 

In return for your prayers for my health and fortitude, I offer 
mine for the citizens of Lancaster in particular and the United 
States in general. 

John Adams. 




8 May, 1798. 


There is nothing in the conduct of our enemies more remark- 
able than their total contempt of the people, while they pretend 
to do all for the people; and of all real republican governments, 
while they screen themselves under some of their names and 
forms. While they are erecting military despotisms, under the 
delusive names of representative democracies, they are demo- 
lishing the Pope by the most machiavelian maxim of one of his 
predecessors, " If the good people will be deceived, let him be 

The American people are unquestionably the best qualified 
of any great nation in the world, by their character, habits, and 
all other circumstances, for a real republican government ; yet 
the American people are represented as in opposition, in enmity, 
and on the point of hostility against the government of their 
own institution and the administration of their own choice. If 
this were true, what would be the consequence? Nothing 
more nor less than that they are ripe for a military despotism, 
under the domination of a foreign power. It is to me no won- 
der that American blood boils at these ideas. 

Your ardent attachment to the Constitution and government 
of the United States, and complete confidence in all its depart- 
ments; your frm resolution, at every hazard, to maintain, sup- 
port, and defend with your lives and fortunes every measure, 
which by your lawful representatives may be deemed necessary 
to protect the rights, liberty, and independence of the United 
States of America, wUl do you honor with all the world and 
with all posterity. 

John Adams. 


to the inhabitants of the town of hartford, 


10 May, 1798. 


Although the sentiments and conduct of the people of Con- 
necticut, as expressed upon all occasions by themselves at 
home, and their representatives in both houses of Congress, have' 
been so unanimous and uniform in support of the government 
as to render their interposition at this crisis unnecessary, yet 
this address from the citizens of Hartford is not the less agree- 
able to me, or deserving my gratitude, 

I have never considered the issue of our late endeavors to 
negotiate with the French republic as a subject either of con- 
gratulation or despondency ; as, on the one hand, I should be 
happy in the friendship of France upon honorable conditions, 
under any government she may choose to assume ; so, on the 
other, I see no cause of despondency under a continuance of 
her enmity, if such is her determined disposition. Providence 
may indeed intend us a favor above our wishes and a blessing 
beyond our foresight in the extinction of an influence which 
might soon have become more fatal than war. 

If the designs of foreign hostility and the views of domestic 
treachery are now fully disclosed ; if the moderation, dignity, 
and wisdom of government have awed into silence the clamors 
of faction, and palsied the thousand tongues of calumny ; if the 
spirit of independent freemen is again awakened, and its force 
is combined, I agree with you that it will be irresistible. 

I hesitate not to express a confidence equal to yours in the 
collected firmness and wisdom which the Southern States have 
ever displayed on the approach of danger; nor can I doubt 
that they will join with all their fellow-citizens, with equal 
spirit, to crush every attempt at disorganization, disunion, and 
anarchy. The vast extent of their settlements, and greater dis- 
tance from the centre of intelligence, may require more time to 
mature their judgment, and expose them to more deceptions by 
misrepresentation ; but in the end, their sensations, reflections, 
and decisions, are purely American. 


Your confidence in the legislature and administration has 
been perfectly well known from the commencement of the go- 
vernment, and has ever done it honor. 

John Adams. 



12 May, 1798. 


Your address has been presented to me by Mr. Hartley, Mr. 
Sitgreaves, and Mr. Hanna, three of your representatives in 

T know not which to admire most, the conciseness, the energy, 
the elegance, or profound wisdom of this excellent address. 

Ideas of reformation and schemes for meliorating the condi- 
tion of humanity should not be discouraged, when proposed 
with reason and pursued with moderation ; but the rage for 
innovation, which destroys every thing because it is established, 
and introduces absurdities the most monstrous, merely because 
they are new, was never carried to such a pitch of madness 
in any age of the world as in this latter end of the boasted 
eighteenth century, and never produced effects so horrible upon 
sufiering humanity- 

Among all the appearances portentous of evil, there is none 
more incomprehensible than the professions of republicanism 
among those who place not a sense of justice, morality, or piety, 
among the ornaments of their nature and the blessings of society. 
As nothing is more certain and demonstrable than that free 
republicanism cannot exist without these ornaments and bless- 
ings, the tendency of the times is rapid towards a restoration 
of the petty military despotisms of the feudal anarchy, and by 
their means a return to the savage state of barbarous life. 

Hov^ can the press prevent this, when all the presses of a 
nation, and indeed of many nations at once, are subject to an 
imprimatur, by a veto upon pain of conflagration, banishment, 
or confiscation ? 

That America may have the glory of arresting this torrent of 

vol,. IX. 1" M 


error, vice, and imposture, is my fervent wish ; and if senti- 
ments as great as those from Harrisburgh, should be found 
universally to prevail, as I doubt not they will, my hopes will 
be as sanguine as my wishes. 

John Adams. 


22 May, 1798. 


It is impossible for you to enter your own Faneuil Hall, or 
to throw your eyes on the variegated mountains and elegant 
islands around you, without recollecting the principles and 
actions of your fathers, and feeling what is due to their example. 
One of their first principles was to unite in themselves the cha- 
racter of citizens and soldiers, and especially to preserve the 
latter always subordinate to the former. 

With much solicitude for your w^elfare and that of your 
posterity, I take the freedom to say that this country never 
appeared to me to be in greater danger than at this moment, 
from within or without, never more urgently excited to assume 
the functions of soldiers. 

The state of the world is such, the situation of all the nations 
of Europe with which we have relation is so critical, that vicis- 
situdes must be expected, from whose deleterious influences 
nothing but arms and energy can protect us. To arms, then, 
my young friends, — to arms, especially by sea, to be used as 
the laws shall direct, let us resort. For safety against dangers, 
which we now see and feel, cannot be averted by truth, reason, 
or justice. 

Nothing in the earlier part of my public life animated me 
more than the countenances of the children and youth of the 
town of Boston ; and nothing at this hour gives me so much 
pleasure as the masculine temper and talents displayed by the 
youth of America in every part of it. 

I ought not to forget the worst enemy we have, that obloquy, 
which, you have observed, is the worst enemy to virtue and the 
best friend to vice ; it strives to destroy all distinction between 


right and wrong ; it leads to divisions, sedition, civil war, and 
military despotism. I need say no more. 

John Abams. 



28 May, 1798. 


I thank you for your address, which has been transmitted to 
me according to your request by the Chief Justice of the State. 

Difficult as it is to believe that a nation, struggling or pre- 
tending to struggle for liberty and independence, should attempt 
to invade or impair those blessings, where they are quietly and 
fully enjoyed ; yet thus it is that the United States of America 
are not the only example of it. 

While occupied in your peaceful employments, you have seen 
the fruits of your industry plundered by professed friends, your 
tranquillity has been disturbed by incessant appeals to the pas- 
sions and prejudices of the people by designing men, and by 
audacious attempts to separate the people froin the govern- 
ment ; and there is not a village in the United States, perhaps, 
which cannot testify to similar abuses. 

Liberty, independence, national honor, social order, and pub- 
lic safety, appear to you to be in danger ; your acknowledg- 
ments to me, therefore, are the more obliging and encouraging. 

Your prayers for my preservation, and your pledge that in 
any arduous issue to which the arts or arms of successful 
violence may compel us, you will, as becomes faithful citizens 
of this happy country, come forward as one man, in defence of 
all that is dear to us, are to me as affecting, as to the public 
they ought to be satisfactory sentiments — the more affecting 
to me, as they come from the most ancient settlement in the 
northern part of the continent, held in peculiar veneration by 
me at all times. 

John Adams. 



31 May, 1798. 


Among all the numerous addresses which have been presented 
to me in the present critical situation of our nation, there has 
been none which has done me more honor, none animated with 
a more glowing love of our country, or expressive of sentiments 
more determined and magnanimous. The submission you 
avow to the civil authority, an indispensable principle in the 
character of warriors in a free government, at the same moment 
when you make a solemn proffer of your lives and fortunes in 
the service of your country, is highly honorable to your disposi- 
tions as citizens and soldiers, and proves you perfectly qualified 
for the duties of both characters. 

Officers and soldiers of New Jersey have as little occasion 
as they have disposition to boast. Their country has long 
boasted of their ardent zeal in the cause of freedom, and their 
invincible intrepidity in the day of battle. 

Your voice of confidence and satisfaction, of firmness and 
determination to support the laws and Constitution of the 
United States, has a charm in it irresistible to the feelings of 
every American bosom ; but when, in the presence of the God 
of armies and in firm reliance on his protection, you solemnly 
pledge your lives and fortunes, and your sacred honor, you 
have recorded words which ought to be indelibly imprinted on 
the memory of every American youth. With these sentiments 
in the hearts and this language in the mouths of Americans in 
general, the greatest nation may menace at its pleasure, and the 
degraded and the deluded characters may tremble, lest they 
should be condemned to the severest punishment an American 
can suffer — that of being conveyed in safety within the lines 
of an invading enemy. 

John Adams. 

'official. 197 


2 June, 1798. 


This kind address from the inhabitants of a division of the 
ancient and venerable town of Braintree, which has always 
been my home, is very obliging to me. 

The tongues and pens of slander, instruments with which 
our enemies expect to subdue our country, I flatter myself have 
never made impressions on you, my ancient townsmen, to whom 
I have been so familiarly known from my infancy. A signal 
interposition of Providence has for once detected frauds and 
calumnies, which, from the inexecution of the laws and the 
indifference of the people were too long permitted to prevail.^ 

I am happy to see that your minds are deeply impressed with 
the danger of the present situation of our country, and that your 
resolutions to assert and defend your rights, are as judicious and 
determined as I have always known them to be upon former 

I wish you every prosperity and felicity which you can wisely 
wish for yourselves. 

John Adams. 

to the young men of the city of new york. 


I received this becoming, amiable, and judicious address from 
the young men of the city of New York with great pleasure. 
The situation in which nature has placed your State, its 

' " At the return of harmony in Congress, the heart of every true friend to 
America exults ; the people, who in great numbers before, alarmingly separated 
in affection and confidence from their own government, and rendered jealous 
of the first characters of their own election, convinced of the snares spread for 
their country by foreign intrigue, are now crowding to its standard, and conse- 
crating their fortunes and lives for its defence. So signal a providence for the 
detection of fraud, and the coalition of a people divided and consequently sink- 
ing into inevitable destruction, is perhaps a novelty in the annals of nations." — 
Extract from the Braintree Address. 



numerous advantages, and its population so rapidly increasing', 
render it of great importance to the union of the nation, that 
its youth should be possessed of good principles and faithful 
dispositions. The specimen you have given in this address 
could not be more satisfactory. 

I assure you, my young friends, that the satisfaction with my 
conduct, which has been expressed by the rising generation, has 
been one of the highest gratifications I ever received, because, 
if I have not been deceived in my own motives, I can sincerely 
say, that their happiness and that of their posterity, more than 
my own or that of my contemporaries, has been the object of 
the studies and labors of my life. 

Your attachment to France was in common with Americans 
in general. The enthusiasm for liberty, which contributed to 
excite it, was in sympathy with great part of the people of 
Europe. The causes which produced that great event, were so 
extensive through the European world, and so long established, 
that it must appear a vast scheme of Providence, progressing 
to its end, incomprehensible to the vievi^s, designs, hopes, and 
fears of individuals or nations, kings or princes, philosophers or 
statesmen. It would be weak to ascribe the glory of it, or im- 
pute the blame to any individual or any nation ; it would be 
equally absurd for any individual or nation to pretend to wisdom 
or power equal to the mighty task of arresting its progress or 
diverting its course. May the human race in general and the 
French nation in particular derive ultimately from it an amelio- 
ration of their condition, in the extension of liberty, civil and 
religious, in increased virtue, wisdom, and humanity! For 
myself, however, I confess, I see not how, nor when, nor where. 
In the mean time, these incomprehensible speculations ought 
not to influence our conduct in any degree. It is our duty to 
judge, by the standard of truth, integrity, and conscience, of what 
is right and wrong, to contend for our own rights, and to fight 
for our own altars and firesides, as much as at any former 
period of our lives. In your own beautiful and pathetic lan- 
guage, the same enthusiasm ought now to unite us more closely 
in the defence of our country, and inspire us with a spirit of 
resistance against the efforts of that republic to destroy our 
independence. If my enthusiasm is not more extravagant than 
yours has ever been, our independence will be one essential 


instrument for reclaiming the fermented world, and bringing 
good out of the mass of evil. 

The respect you acknowledge to your parents, is one of the 
best of symptoms. The ties of father, son, and brother, the sacred 
bands of marriage, without which those connections would be 
no longer dear and venerable, call on you and all your youth to 
beware of contaminating your country with the foul abomina- 
tions of the French revolution. 

John Adams. 



Next to the approbation of a good conscience, there is nothing, 
perhaps, which gives us more pleasure than the praise of those 
we love most, and who know us the most intimately. 

I could not receive your address — in which I read with 
pleasure inexpressible the names of clergy and laity, officers 
and soldiers, magistrates and citizens of every denomination, 
among whom were the most aged, whose countenances I had 
respected, my school-fellows and the companions of my child- 
hood, whom I had loved from the cradle, — without the liveliest 
emotions of gratitude and affection. 

With you, my kind neighbors, I have ever lived in habits of 
freedom, friendship, and familiarity. We have always agreed 
very well in principles and opinions, and well knowing your 
love of your country and ardor in its defence, your explicit 
declaration upon this occasion, though unexpected, is no sur- 
prise to me. Accept of the best wishes of a sincere and faithful 
friend for a continuance of harmony among you, and for the 
prosperity of all your interests. 

John Adams. 




2 June, 1798. 


I thank you for this address, subscribed by so large a number 
of respectable names, and for the expression of your satisfaction 
in my administration. 

Difficulties were the inheritance to which I was born, and a 
double portion has been allotted to me. I have hitherto found 
in my integrity an impenetrable shield, and I trust it will con- 
tinue to preserve me. 

I pity the towns, which, under the guidance of rash or design- 
ing men, assembled without the necessary information, and 
passed resolutions which have exposed them to censure. 

I receive and return with pleasure your congratulations on 
the present appearances of national union, and thank you for 
your assurances of support. 

John Adams. 

15 June, 1798. 


An afTectionate and respectful address from your two honor- 
able houses has been presented to me, according to your request, 
by your senators and representatives in Congress. 

The anxiety, the ancient and constant habit of the people of 
Massachusetts and their legislature, to take an early and decided 
part in whatever relates to the safety and welfare of their coun- 
try, as well as their ardor, activity, valor, and ability in its defence 
by sea and land, are well known, and ought to be acknowledged 
by all the world. 

The first forty years of my life were passed in my native 
Massachusetts, in a course of education and professional career, 
which led me to a very general acquaintance in every part of 


that State. If, with youv opportunities and pressing motives for 
observation and experience, you can pronounce my services 
successful, and administration virtuous, and the people of fifteen 
other States could concur with you in that opinion, my reward 
would be complete, and my most ardent wishes gratified. 

If the object of France, in her revolution, ever was liberty, it 
was a liberty very ill defined and never understood. She now 
aims at dominion such as never has before prevailed in Europe. 
If with the principles, maxims, and systems of her present 
leaders she is to become the model and arbiter of nations, the 
liberties of the world will be in danger. Nevertheless, the 
citizens of Massachusetts, who were first to defend, will be 
among the last to resign the rights of our national sovereignty. 

You have great reason to expect in this all-important conflict 
the ready and zealous cooperation of the free and enlightened 
people of America, and with humble confidence to rely on the 
God of our fathers for protection and success. 

With you I fully agree, that a people, by whom the blessings 
of civil and religious liberty are enjoyed and duly appreciated, 
will never surrender them but with their lives. The patriotism 
and the energies of your constituents, united with those of the 
people of the other States, are a sure pledge that the charter of 
your civil and religious liberties, sealed by the blood of Ameri- 
cans, will never be violated by the sacrilegious hand of foreign 

The solemn pledge of yourselves, to support every measure 
which the government of the United States at this momentous 
period may see fit to adopt to protect the commerce and preserve 
the independence of our country, must afford an important en- 
couragement to the national government, and contribute greatly 
to the union of the people throughout all the States. 

John Adams, 



25 June, 1798. 


I thank you for this address, which has been presented to me 
by Mr. Chipman, one of your senators in Congress. 

Sentiments like yours, which have been entertained for years, 
it would be at this time inexcusable not to express. If you 
have long seen foreign influence prevailing and endangering the 
peace and independence of our country, so have I. If you have 
long seen, with painful sensations, the exertions of dangerous 
and restless men, misleading the understandings of our well- 
meaning citizens, and prompting them to such measures as 
would sink the glory of our country and prostrate her liberties 
at the feet of France, so also have I. 

I have seen in the conduct of the French nation, for the last 
twelve years, a repetition of their character displayed under 
Louis the fourteenth, and little more, excepting the extrava- 
gances, which have been intermixed with it, of the wildest 
philosophy which was ever professed in this world, since the 
building of Babel, and the fables of the giants, who, by piling 
mountains on mountains, invaded the skies. If the spell is 
broken, let human nature exult and rejoice. The veil may be 
removed from the eyes of many, but I fear, not of all. The 
snare is not yet entirely broken, and we are not yet escaped. 

If you have no attachments or exclusive friendship for any 
foreign nation, you possess the genuine character of true Ame- 

The pledge of yourselves and dearest enjoyments, to support 
the measures of government, shows that your ideas are adequate 
to the national dignity, and that you are worthy to enjoy its 
independence and sovereignty. 

Your prayers for my life and usefulness are too affecting to 
me to be enlarged upon. 

John Adams. 


29 June, 1798. 


My most respectful and afFectionate thanks are due to your 
two honorable houses for an address, transmitted to me by your 
excellent governor, and presented to me by your representatives 
in Congress. 

The American nation appears to me, as it does to you, on 
the point of being drawn into the vortex of European war. 
Your entire satisfaction in the administration of the federal 
government, and in the perseverance which has marked its 
endeavors to adjust our disputes with France, is very precious 
to me. Distressing and alarming as the political situation of 
this country is, I am conscious that no measures, on my part, 
have been wanting, that could have honorably rendered it other- 
wise. The indignities which have been so repeatedly offered 
to our ambassadors, the greatest of which is the last unexampled 
insult, in choosing out one of the three, and discarding the other 
two, the wrongs and injuries to our commerce by French depre- 
dations, the legal declaration, in effect, of hostilities against all 
our commerce, and the apparent disposition of the government 
of France, seem to render further negotiation not only nugatory, 
but disgraceful and ruinous. You may tax the French govern- 
ment with ingratitude with much more justice than yourselves. 

The increasing union among the people and their legislatures 
is as encouraging as it is agreeable. The precept, "divide and 
conquer," was never exemplified in the eyes of mankind in so 
striking and remarkable a manner as of late in Europe. Every 
old republic has fallen before it. If America has not spirit and 
sense enough to learn wisdom from the examples of so many 
republican catastrophes passing in review before her eyes, she 
deserves to suffer, and most certainly will fall. I am happy to 
assure you that, as far as my information extends, the opposi- 
tion to the federal government in all the other States, as well as 
in New Hampshire, is too small to merit the name of division. 
It is a difference of sentiment on public measures, not an aliena- 
tion of affection to their country. 


The war-worn soldiers and the brave and hardy sons of New 
Hampshire, second to none in skill, enterprize, or courage in 
war, will never surrender the independence, or consent to the 
dishonor of their country. 

I return my warmest wishes for your health and happiness. 

John Adams. 



I have received from the hand of one of your senators in 
Congress, Mr. Bingham, your public and explicit declaration of 
your sentiments and resolutions at this important crisis, in an 
excellent address. 

Although it ought not to be supposed that young gentlemen 
of your standing should be deeply versed in political disquisi- 
tions, because your time has been occupied in the pursuit of 
the elements of science and literature in general, yet the feelings 
of nature are a sure guide in circumstances like the present. I 
need not, however, make this apology for you. Few addresses, 
if any, have appeared more correct in principle, better arranged 
and digested, more decent and moderate, better reasoned and 
supported, or more full, explicit, and determined. 

Since the date of your address, a fresh instance of the present 
spirit of a nation, or its government, whom you have been taught 
to call your friends, has been made public. Two of your envoys 
have been ordered out of the republic. Why ? Answer this for 
yourselves, my young friends. A third has been permitted or 
compelled to remain. "Why ? To treat of loans, as preliminary 
to an audience, as the French government understands it; to 
wait for further orders, as your envoy conceives. Has any 
sovereign of Europe ever dictated to your country the person 
she should send as ambassador ? Did the monarchy of France, 
or any other country, ever assume such a dictatorial power over 
the sovereignty of your country ? Is the republic of the United 
States of America a fief of the repablic of France ? It is a 
question, whether even an equitable treaty, under such circum- 
stances of indecency, insolence, and tyranny, ought ever to be 


ratified by an independent nation. There is, however, no pro- 
bability of any treaty, to bring this question to a decision. 

If there are any who still plead the cause of France, and 
attempt to paralyse the efforts of your government, I agree with 
you, they ought to be esteemed our greatest enemies. I hope 
that none of you, but such as feel a natural genius and disposi- 
tion to martial exercise and exertions, will ever be called from 
the pleasing walks of science to repel any attack upon your 
rights, liberties, and independence. 

When you look up to me with confidence as the patron of 
science, liberty, and religion, you melt my heart. These are the 
choicest blessings of humanity ; they have an inseparable union. 
Without their joint influence no society can be great, flourish- 
ing, or happy. 

While I ardently pray that the American republic may always 
rise superior to her enemies, and transmit the purest principles 
of liberty to the latest ages, 1 beseech Heaven to bestow its 
choicest blessings on the governors and students of your college, 
and all other seminaries of learning in America. 

John Adams. 

to the students of new jersey college. 


I thank you for your well-judged and well-penned address, 
which has been presented to me by one of your senators in 
Congress, from New Jersey, Mr. Stockton. 

To a high-spirited youth, possessed of that self-respect and 
self-esteem which is inseparable from conscious innocence and 
rectitude; whose bodies are not enervated by irregularities of 
life ; whose minds are not weakened by dissipation or habits of 
luxury ; whose natural sentiments are improved and fortified 
by classical studies ; the aggressions of a foreign power must be 
disgusting and odious. On these facts alone I could answer 
for the youth of Nassau, that they will glory in defending the 
independence of their fathers. 

The honor of your country you cannot estimate too highly. 
Reputation is of as much importance to nations, in proportion, 
as to individuals. Honor is a higher interest than reputation. 

VOL. IX. '* 


The man or the nation without attachment to reputation or 
honor, is undone. What is animal life, or national existence, 
without either ? 

The regret with which you view the encroachments of foreign 
nations, the impatience with which you contemplate their law- 
less depredations, are perfectly natural, and do honor to your 

If regrets would avert the necessity of military operations, it 
would be well to indulge them ; but if the entire prosperity of 
a State depends upon the discipline of its armies, a maxim 
much respected by your fathers, you may hereafter be convinced 
that the cause of your country and of mankind may be promoted 
by means, which, from love to your country and a fear to set at 
defiance the laws of nature, you now see cause to regret. 

The flame of enthusiasm which you in common with your 
fathers caught at the French revolution, could have been en- 
kindled only by the innocence of your hearts and the purity of 
your intentions. Let me, however, my amiable and accom- 
plished young friends, entreat you to study the history of that 
revolution, the history of France during the periods of the League 
and the Fronde, and the history of England from 1640 to 1660. 
In these studies you may perhaps find a solution of your disap- 
pointment in your hopes that the spirit which created, would 
conduct the revolution. You may find that the good intended 
by fair characters from the beginning, was defeated by Borgias 
and Catilines; that these fair characters themselves were inex- 
perienced in freedom, and had very little reading in the science 
of government; that they were altogether inadequate to the 
cause they embraced, and the enterprise in which they embarked. 
You may find that the moral principles, sanctified and sanctioned 
by religion, are the only bond of union, the only ground of con- 
fidence of the people in one another, of the people in the govern- 
ment, and the government in the people. Avarice, ambition, 
and pleasure, can never be the foundations of reformations or 
revolutions for the better. These passions have dictated the 
aim at universal domination, trampled on the rights of neutral- 
ity, despised the faith of solemn compacts, insulted ambassadors, 
and rejected offers of friendship. 

It is to me a flattering idea that you place any of your hopes 
of political security in me ; mine are placed in your fathers 


and you, and my advice to both is to place your confidence, 
under the favor of Heaven, in yourselves. 

Your approbation of the conduct of government, and con- 
fidence in its authorities, are very acceptable. If the choice of 
the people will not defend their rights, who will? To me there 
appears no means of averting the storm ; and, in my opinion, 
we must all be ready to dedicate ourselves to fatigues and 

John Adams. 



An address so affectionate and respectful carries with it a 
dignity and authority, which is the more honorable to me as it 
comes from a legislature, which, although not in the habit of 
interfering in the administration of the general government, has 
exhibited a uniform affection for the national Constitution, and 
an undeviating respect to the laws and constituted author- 

There can never be a time when it will be more necessary for 
the nation to express the sentiments by which it is animated, 
than when it is deeply injured by lawless aggressions, and in- 
sulted by imperious claims of a foreign power, professing to 
confide in our disunion, and boasting of the means of severing 
the affections of our citizens from the government of their 

Your approbation of the conduct and measures of government, 
and assurances of a firm and hearty support, are of great and 
high importance, and demand my most respectful and grateful 

With you I cherish our independence, revere the names, the 
virtues, and the sufferings of our ancestors, and admire the 
resolution, that the inestimable gift of civil and religious freedom 
shall never be impaired in our hands, and that no sacrifice of 
blood or treasure shall be esteemed too dear to transmit the 
precious inheritance to posterity. 

I return my most fervent wishes for your personal happiness, 


and the peace and the honor of the nation, committing all, with 
all their interests, to the God of our fathers. 

John Adams. 


I thank you for your respectful remembrance of me on the 
birth-day of our United States. The clear conviction you 
acknowledge of the firm, patriotic, and enlightened policy pur- 
sued by the chief magistrate of the United States, after a review 
of the progress of his administration, will encourage his heart 
and strengthen his hands. Our country, supported by a great 
and respectable majority of its inhabitants, will not only be 
protected from a degrading submission to national insults, but 
be placed, I trust, on that point of elevation, where, by her 
courage and virtues, she is entitled to stand. The best " diplo- 
matic skill" is honesty, and whenever the nation we complain 
of shall have recourse to that, she may depend upon an oppor- 
tunity to boast of the success of her address — till then, she will 
employ "her finesse in vain. On the day you resolved to live 
and die free, and declared yourselves ready to rally round the 
standard of your country, headed by that illustrious chief, who, 
at a time that proved the patriot and the hero, led you to vic- 
tory — I was employed in the best of measures in my power to 
obtain a gratification of your wishes, which I am not without 
hopes may prove successful. In a country like ours, every 
sacrifice ought to be considered as nothing, when put in com- 
petition with the rights of a free and sovereign nation ; and I 
trust that, by the blessing of Heaven, and the valor of our 
citizens, under their ancient and glorious leader, you will be 
able to transmit your fairest inheritance to posterity. 

John Adams. 



14 July, 1798. 


I thank you for a friendly address, presented to me by your 
representative in Congress, Mr. Otis. 

No faithful and intelligent American could pass the 4th of 
July this year, without strong sensations and deep reflections, 
excited by the perfidy, insolence, and hostilities of France. 
The ideas of never-ending repose in America were as visionary 
as the projects of universal and perpetual peace, which some 
ingenious and benevolent writers have amused themselves in 

We have too much intercourse with ambitious, enterprising, 
and warlike nations, and our commerce is of too much import- 
ance in their conflicts, to leave us a hope of remaining always 
neutral. Although our government has exhausted all the re- 
sources of its policy in endeavors to avoid engaging in the 
present uproar, neither the faith, justice, or gratitude of France 
would suffer it to succeed. 

I know very well that political misinformation has been pecu- 
liarly active in the scene which you and I inhabit, and that too 
many have believed that France, though crushed under the iron 
hand of a military despotism, enjoyed liberty; that the inor- 
dinate ambition of her rulers for dominion was infused by a 
generous zeal to set oppressed nations free ; that these nations 
were emancipated by being subdued, and though they lost their 
independence, they were gainers by some unknown equivalent 
gratuitously conferred by their conquerors. 

If impostures so gross have had too much success, America 
is of all the people of the world the most excusable, for many 
particular reasons, for their credulity. The people of a great 
portion of Europe have been more fatally deceived ; even the 
people of England, with all their national antipathies and under 
all the energies of their government, have been equally misin- 
formed, and appear to be now more affected with remorse. The 
sobriety and steadiness of the American character will not safttvr 

18* N 


more discredit than other nations, and we have certainly apolo- 
gies to make, peculiar to ourselves. 

That all Americans by birth, except perhaps a very few aban- 
doned characters, have always preserved a superior affection for 
their own country, I am very confident ; that we have thought 
too well of France, and France too meanly of us, I have been 
an eye and ear witness for twenty years. These errors on both 
sides must be corrected. She will soon learn that we will bear 
no yoke, that we will pay no tribute. 

For delaying counsels, the Constitution has not made me 
responsible ; but while I am entrusted with my present powers, 
and bound by my present obligations, you shall see no more 
delusive negotiations. The safe keeping of American inde- 
pendence is in the energy of its spirit and resources. In my 
opinion, as well as yours, there is no alternative between war 
and submission to the executive of France. If your fathers had 
not felt sentiments like these, they would have been " hewers of 
wood " to one foreign nation ; and if you did not feel them, 
your posterity would be " drawers of water " to another. 

John Adams. 

to the inhabitants of concord, massachusetts. 


I thank you for this address. Your encomium on the execu- 
tive authority of the national government, is in a degree highly 

As I have ever wished to avoid, as far as prudence and neces- 
sity would permit, every concealment from my fellow-citizens 
of my real sentiments in matters of importance, I will venture 
to ask you whether it is consistent with the peace we have 
made, the friendship we have stipulated, or even with civility, 
to express a marked resentment to a foreign power who is at 
war with another, whose ill will we experience every day, and 
who will, very probably, in a few weeks be acknowledged an 
enemy in the sense of the law of nations. A power, too, 
which invariably acknowledged us to be a nation for fifteen 
years ; a power that has never had the insolence to reject 


your ambassadors ; a power that at present convoys your trade 
and their own at the same time. Immortal hatred, inextinguish- 
able animosity, is neither philosophy, true religion, nor good 
policy. Our ancient maxim was, " Enemies in war, in peace 

If Concord drank the first blood of martyred freemen. Con- 
cord should be the first to forget the injury, when it is no longer 
useful to remember it. Some of you, as well as myself, remem- 
ber the war of 1755 as well as that of 1775. War always has 
its horrors, and civil wars the worst. 

If the contest you allude to was dubious, it was from extrin- 
sic causes ; it was from partial, enthusiastic, and habitual attach- 
ment to a foreign country — not from any question of a party 
of strength. It is highly useful to reflect — fifty thousand men 
upon paper, and thirty thousand men in fact, was the highest 
number Britain ever had in arms in this country — compute the 
tonnage of ships necessary and actually employed to transport 
these troops across the Atlantic. What were thirty thousand 
men to the United States of America in 1775 ? What would 
sixty thousand be now in 1798? 

Let not fond attachments, enthusiastic devotion to another 
power, paralyze the nerves of our citizens a second time, and all 
the ships in Europe that can be spared, oflicered, and manned, 
will not be sufficient to bring to this country an army capable 
of any long contest. 

Your compliments to me are far beyond my merits. Your 
confidence in the government, and determination to support it, 
are greatly to your honor. 

John Adams. 



The companions, studies, and amusements of my youth, un- 
der the auspices of our alma mater, whom I shall ever hold in 
the highest veneration and affection, came fresh to my remem- 
brance on receiving your address.^ 

1 Of the committee which presented this address, William EUery Channing 
was the chairman. 


The maxims of life and the elements of literature, which have 
ever been inculcated in that ancient seat of education, could 
produce no other sentiments, in a juncture like this, than such as 
you have condensed into a form so concise, with so much accu- 
racy, perspicuity, and beauty. 

Removed from the scenes of intemperate pleasures, occupied 
with books, which impress the purest principles, and directed 
by governors, tutors, and professors, famous for science as well 
as eminent in wisdom, the studious youth of this country, in all 
our universities, could not fail to be animated with the intrepid 
spirit of their ancestors. Very few examples of degenerate 
characters are ever seen issuing from any of those seminaries. 
It is impossible that young gentlemen of your habits can look 
forward with pleasure to a long career of life, in a degraded 
country, in society with disgraced associates. Your first care 
should be to preserve the stage from reproach, and your com- 
panions in the drama from dishonor. 

But if it were possible to suppose you indifferent to shame, 
what security can you have for the property you may acquire, 
or for the life of vegetation you must lead ? What is to be the 
situation of the future divine, lawyer, or physician? the mer- 
chant or navigator? the cultivator or proprietor? 

Your youthful blood has boiled, and it ought to boil. You 
need not, however, be discouraged. If your cause should re- 
quire defence in arms, your country will have armies and navies 
in which you may secure your own honor, and advance the 
power, prosperity, and glory of your contemporaries and poste- 

John Adams. 



I thank you for this generous and noble address. 

The zeal you display to vindicate your society from the im- 
putations and suspicions of being "inimical to regular govern- 
ment and divine religion," is greatly to your honor. It has been 
an opinion of many considerate men, as long as I can remember, 
that your society might, in some time or other, be made an 


instrument of danger and disorder to the world. Its ancient 
existence and universal prevalence are good proofs that it has 
not heretofore been applied to mischievous purposes ; and in 
this country I presume that no one has attempted to employ it 
for purposes foreign from its original institution. But in an 
age and in countries where morality is, by such numbers, con- 
sidered as mere convenience, and religion a lie, you are better 
judges than I am, whether ill uses have been or may be made 
of Masonry. 

Your appeal to my own breast, and your declaration that I 
shall there find your sentiments, I consider as a high compli- 
ment; and feel a pride in perceiving and declaring that the 
opinions, principles, and feelings expressed are conformable to 
my own. With you I fear that no hope remains but in prepa- 
ration for the worst that may ensue. 

Persevere, gentlemen, in revering the Constitution which 
secures your liberties, in loving your country, in practising 
the social as well as the moral duties, in presenting your lives, 
with those of your fellow-citizens, a barrier to defend your in- 
dependence, and may the architect all-powerful surround you 
with walls impregnable, and receive you, finally (your country 
happy, prosperous, and glorious), to mansions eternal in the 
Heavens ! 

With heart-felt satisfaction, I reciprocate your most sincere 
congratulations on an occasion the most interesting to Ameri- 
cans. No light or trivial cause would have given you the oppor- 
tunity of beholding your Washington again relinquishing the 
tranquil scenes in delicious shades. To complete the character 
of French philosophy and French policy, at the end of the 
eighteenth century, it seemed to be necessary to combat this 
patriot and hero. 

John Adams. 


Your address has been presented to me by your representa- 
tive in Congress, IVIr. Baer. 

When you say that the government of France is congenial 


to your own, I pray you, gentlemen, to reconsider the subject. 
The Constitution, the administration, the laws, and their inter- 
pretation in France, are as essentially different from ours as 
the ancient monarchy. If we may believe travellers returned 
from that country, or their own committees, the pomp and mag- 
nificence, the profusion of expense, the proud usurpation, the 
domineering inequality at present in that country, as well as 
the prostitution of morals and depravation of maimers, exceed 
ail that ever was seen under the old monarchy, and form the 
most perfect contrast to your own in all those respects, I shall 
meet with sincerity any honorable overtures of that nation, but 
I shall make no more overtures. 

John Abams. 

to the inhabitants of the county of middlesex, 



I thank you for this address, presented to me by your repre- 
sentative in Congress, Mr. New. 

The principle of neutrality has indeed been maintained on 
the part of the United States with inviolable faith, notwith- 
standing every embarrassment and provocation, both of injury 
and insult, until we have been forced out of it by an actual 
war made upon us, though not manfully declared. 

For reasons that are obvious to all the world, you may easily 
imagine, that every manifestation of candor towards me from 
any part of Virginia must be peculiarly agreeable. The hand- 
some expressions of your approbation deserve my thanks. 
Every thing has been done short of a resignation of our inde- 
pendence. A resignation of our independence I I blush to 
write the words ; there would be as much sense in speaking of 
a resignation of the independence of France, or Germany, or 
Russia. We are a nation as inuch established as any of them, 
and as able to maintain our sovereignty, absolute and unlimited 
by sea and land, as any of them. 

It is too much to expect that all party divisions will be done 
away a*s long as there are rival States and rival individuals ; all 


we can reasonably hope is, and this we may confidently expect, 
that no State or individual, to gratify its ambition, will enlist 
under foreign banners. 

John Adams. 

to the committee composed of a deputation from each 

militia company of the forty-eighth regiment, in the 

county of botetourt, virginia. 


A copy of your unanimous resolutions together with an ad- 
dress, signed by your chairman, has been presented to me by 
one of your representatives in Congress, Mr. Evans. 

The confidence of the people of Virginia, or any such respect- 
able portion of them, is peculiarly agreeable to me, as it evinces 
a tendency to a restoration of that harmony and union, which 1 
well remember to have once existed, and which was so auspi- 
cious to the American cause, but which has been apparently 
interrupted since the commencement of the federal government. 

It is scarcely possible that I should ever read a sentence more 
delightful to my heart than those words, " We admire the con- 
sistency of your character, and are pleased to see the same 
firmness, integrity, and patriotism, at the present day, so emi- 
nently displayed in the great crisis of the American revolution." 

John Adams. 


vicinity, in the north-western territory. 
11 August, 1798. 


I have received and read with much pleasure your unanimous 
address of the 29th of June. I agree with you that, in the ordi- 
nary course of affairs, interpositions of popular meetings, to 
overawe those to whom the management of public affairs are 
confided, will seldom be warranted by discretion, or found com- 


patible with the good order of society ; but, at a period like this, 
there is no method more infallible to determine the question, 
whether the people are or are not united. Upon no occasion 
in the history of America has this mode of discovering and ascer- 
taining the public opinion been so universally resorted to. And 
it may be asserted with confidence, that at no period of the 
existence of the United States have evidences of the unanimity 
of the people been given, so decided as on the present question 
with France. 

The people of this country, the most remote from the seat of 
government and centre of information, as well as those in its 
neighborhood, have at length discovered that they are Ameri- 
cans, and feelingly alive to the injuries committed against their 
country, and to the indignities offered to their government. 
Upon ourselves only we ought to depend for safety and defence. 
This maxim, however, by no means forbids us to avail ourselves 
of the advantages of prudent and well guarded concert with 
others exposed to common dangers. Animated with sentiments 
like yours, our country is able to defend itself against any ene- 
mies that may rise up against it. 

Nothing can be more flattering to me than your assurances 
of confidence in this perilous hour ; and nothing could mortify 
me so much as that you should ever have reason to believe that 
your confidence has been misplaced. In return for your prayers 
for my personal happiness, I sincerely offer mine for the pros- 
perity of the north-western territory, in common with all the 
United States. 

John Adams. 

to the inhabitants of harrison county, virginia. 

13 August, 1798. 

' ^ 


I have received with great pleasure your address from your 
committee. The attachment you profess to our government, 
calculated as it is to insure liberty and happiness to its citizens, 
is commendable. Your declaration, in plain and undisguised 
language, that the measures which have been taken to promote 


a good understanding, peace, and harmony between this coun- 
try and France, are becoming my character and deserving your 
confidence, is a great encouragement to me. With you I see 
with infinite satisfaction, that the alarming prospect of a war, 
Avhich is seen to be just and necessary, has silenced all essen- 
tial differences of opinions, and that a union of sentiment 
appears to prevail very generally throughout our land. I be- 
lieve, however, that the distinction of aristocrat and democrat, 
however odious and pernicious it may be rendered by political 
artifice at particular conjunctures, will never be done away, as 
longr as some men are taller and others shorter, some Mdser and 
others sillier, some more virtuous and others more vicious, some 
richer and others poorer. The distinction is grounded on unal- 
terable nature, and human wisdom can do no more than recon- 
cile the parties by eqiiTt'able establishments and equal laws, 
securing, as far as possible, to every one his own. The distinc- j 
tion was intended by nature for the order of society, and the • 
benefit of mankind. The parties ought to be like the sexes, ; 
mvitually beneficial to each other. And woe will be to that 
country, which supinely suffers malicious demagogues to excite 
jealousies, foment prejudices, and stimulate animosities between 
them ! 

I adore with you the genius and principles of that religion, 
which teaches, as much as possible, to live peaceably with all 
men ; yet, it is impossible to be at peace with injustice and 
cruelty, with fraud and violence, with despotism, anarchy, and 
impiety. A purchased peace could continue no longer than you 
continue to pay ; and the field of battle at once, is infinitely 
preferable to a course of perpetual and unlimited contribution. 

Deeply affected with your prayers for the continuance of my 
life, I can only say, that my age and infirmities scarcely allow 
me a hope of being the happy instrument of conducting you 
through the impending storm. 

John Adams. 

to the young men of richmond, virginia. 

An address so respectful to me, so faithful to the nation, and 

VOL. IX. 1^ 


true to its government, from so honorable a portion of the young 
men of Richmond, cannot fail to be very acceptable to me. 

You will not take offence, I hope, at my freedom, however, 
if I say, that if you had been taught to cherish in your hearts 
an esteem and friendship for France, it would have been enough ; 
more than these, toward any foreign power, had better be re- 

It might have been as well for us in America, whose distance 
is so great, and whose knowledge of France and her govern- 
ment was so imperfect, to have suspended our veneration for 
the mighty effort which overturned royalty, until we should 
have seen all degrading despotism at an end in the country, 
and something more consistent with virtue, equality, liberty, 
and humanity, substituted in its place. Hitherto the progress 
has been from bad to w^orse. 

The conduct of the French government towards us is of a 
piece with their behaviour to their own citizens and a great 
part of Europe. Your sensibility to their insults and injuries 
to your country, is very becoming, and your resolution to resist 
them do you honor. 

A fresh insult is now offered to all America, and especially 
to her government, in the arbitrary dismission of two of their 
envoys, with scornful intimations of capricious prejudices against 
them. But I am weary of enumerating insults and injuries. 

John Adams. 



I pray you to accept ray thanks for your unanimous address, 
replete with sentiments truly American. 

Your conviction, that your government has manifested a most 
earnest and sincere desire to preserve peace with all nations, 
particularly with the French republic ; your declaration that, 
upon a candid review of the conduct of your government, you 
can discover nothing which ought to have given umbrage to 
that republic, or which can in any wise justify her numerous 
aggressions on the persons and properties of our citizens, in 


direct violation of the law of nations, and in contravention of 
her existing treaties with us — ought to give entire satisfaction 
to the government. 

Your concern and regret, that those efforts to maintain har- 
mony have proved abortive, are natural and common to you 
and me and all our fellow-citizens, but can be of no use ; instead 
of dwelling on our regrets, we must explore our resources. Al- 
though we may view war as particularly injurious to the interests 
of our country. Providence may intend it for our good, and we 
must submit. That it is a less evil than national dishonor, no 
man of sense and spirit will deny. 

I have no hope that the French republic will soon return to a 
sense of justice. 

Your promise to cooperate in whatever measures government 
may deem conducive to the interests, and consistent with the 
honor of the nation, and your pledge of your lives and fortunes, 
and all you hold dear, upon the success of the issue, are in the 
true spirit of men, of freemen, of Americans, and genuine re- 

John Adams. 

to the senate and assembly of the state of new york. 

31 August, 1798. 


I have received your unanimous address. If an address of 
so much dignity and authority could have received any addition 
from the channel of conveyance, you have chosen that which is 
nearest to my heart, in his Excellency John Jay, Esquire, the 
governor of the State of New York, of whose purity, patriotism, 
fortitude, independence, and profound wisdom, I have been a 
witness for a long course of years. The position in the Union 
of the great and growing State of New York, its incalculable 
advantages in agriculture as well as commerce, render this 
unanimous act of the two houses of its legislature one of the 
most important events of the present year. 

With the most sincere respect and cordial satisfaction, gentle- 
men, I congratulate you on the decided appearance in America 


of a solid, national character. From the Mississippi to the St. 
Croix, unquestionable proofs have been given of national feel- 
ings, national principles, and a national system. This is all 
that was wanting to establish the power of the American people, 
and insure the respect and justice of other nations. 

For all that is personal to myself, I pray you to accept my 
best thanks. I never have had, and I never shall have, any 
claims on the gratitude of my country. If I have done my duty 
to them, and they are convinced of it, this is all I have desired 
or shall desire. 

The strong claims which your State holds in the national 
defence and protection, will have every attention that depends 
on me. 

I thank you for the expression of the satisfaction you derive 
from the fresh instance of great and disinterested patriotism, 
which my illustrious predecessor has manifested. May he long 
continue to be, as he ever has been, the insti'ument of great 
good, and the example of great virtue to his fellow-citizens ! 
The last act of his political life, in accepting his appointment, 
will be recorded in history as one of the most brilliant examples 
of public virtue that ever was exhibited among mankind. 

John Adams. 


7 September, 1798. 


I thank you for this respectful address. The existence of the 
independence of any nation cannot be more grossly attacked, 
the sovereign rights of a country cannot be more offensively 
violated, than by a refusal to receive ambassadors sent as minis- 
ters of explanation and concord; especially if such refusal is 
accompanied with public and notorious circumstances of deli- 
berate indignity, insult, and contempt. Indiscriminate despolia- 
tions on our commerce, grounded on the contemptuous opinion 
that we are a divided, defenceless, and mercenary people, are 
not so egregious and aggravated a provocation offered to the 


face of a whole nation as the former. 1 rejoice that you indig- 
nantly feel that you dare to resent; and that you hope to vindi- 
cate the injured and insulted character of our common country. 
When friendship becomes insult, or is permitted only on terms 
dictated and imposed, it becomes an intolerable yoke, and it is 
time to shake it off. Better at once to become generous ene- 
mies, than maintain a delusive and precarious connection with 
such insidious friends. 

Whatever pretexts the French people, or a French prince 
of the blood with his train, or a combination of families of 
the first quality with officers of the army, had, for their efforts 
for the annihilation of the monarchy, we certainly, far from 
being under any obligation, had no right or excuse to interfere 
for their assistance. If, by the collateral props of the monar- 
chy, you mean the nobility and the clergy, what has followed 
the annihilation of them? AH their revenues have been seized 
and appropriated by another prop of the old monarchy, the 
army; and the nation is become, as all other nations of Eu- 
rope are becoming, if French principles and systems prevail, 
a congregation of soldiers and serfs. The French revolution 
has ever been incomprehensible to me. The substance of all 
that I can understand of it is, that one of the pillars of the an- 
cient monarchy, that is the army, has fallen upon the other two, 
the nobility and the clergy, and broken them both down. The 
building has fallen, of course, and this pillar is now the whole 
edifice. The military serpent has swallowed that of Aaron, and 
all the rest. If the example should be followed through Europe, 
when the officers of the armies begin to quarrel with one an- 
other, five hundred years more of Barons' wars may succeed. 
If the French, therefore, will become the enemies of all mankind, 
by forcing all nations to follow their example, in the subver- 
sion of all the political, religious, and social institutions, which 
time, experience, and freedom have sanctioned, they ought to 
be opposed by every country that has any pretensions to prin- 
ciple, spirit, or patriotism. 

Floating batteries and wooden walls have been my favorite 
system of warfare and defence for this country for three and 
twenty years. I have had very little success in making prose- 
lytes. At the present moment, however, Americans in general, 
cultivators as well -as merchants and mariners, begin to look to 



that source of security and protection ; and your assistance will 
have great influence and effect in extending the opinion in 
theory, and in introducing and establishing the practice. 

Your kind wishes for my life and health demand my most 
respectful and affectionate gratitude, and the return of my sin- 
cere prayers for the health and happiness of the Marine Society 
at Boston, as well as for the security and prosperity of the 
military and commercial marine of the United States, in which 
yours is included. 

John Adams. 

to the cincinnati of south carolina. 
15 September, 1798. 


With great respect and esteem I receive your unanimous 
address, agreed on at a meeting expressly called for that pur- 
pose on the 22d of August. That men who cheerfully arranged 
themselves in the front rank to oppose the most formidable 
attack that was ever made on their country ; that men who have 
experienced the delightful reflection of having contributed to 
the establishment of the liberties and independence of their 
country, and have enjoyed the sweetest of rewards in the grate- 
ful affection of their fellow-citizens; that such men should even 
be lukewarm when the object of their fondest attachment is in 
jeopardy, is incredible. I rejoice in your approbation of the 
conduct adopted and pursued with France. Conciliation has 
been pursued with more patience and perseverance than can be 
perfectly reconciled with our national reputation. At least, if 
we can reconcile it with our national character and independ- 
ence, it must be by peculiar circumstances that we can excuse 
it in the opinion of an impartial world — if indeed, at this day, 
there is an impartial world. Posterity, who may be impartial 
enough to pass an equitable judgment, will allow that the form 
of our government, our late connections and relations, and the 
present state of all nations, furnish an apology well grounded 
on equity and humanity. 

The French, and too manv Americans have miscalculated. 


They have betrayed to the whole world their ignorance of the 
American character. As to the French, I know of no govern- 
ment ancient or modern that ever betrayed so universal and 
decided a contempt of the people of all nations, as the present 
rulers of France, They have manifested a settled opinion that 
the people have neither sense nor integrity in any country, and 
they have acted accordingly. 

When you weighed tribute and dependence against war, you 
might have added immorality and irreligion to the former scale. 
What shall we think of those who can weigh tribute, depend- 
ence, immorality, irreligion, against pounds, livres, or florins? 
When the Cincinnati of South Carolina pledge their lives, their 
fortunes, and their sacred honor, I believe no man will doubt 
their integrity. 

John Adams. 

to the grand jury of the county of dutchess, new york. 

22 September, 1798. 


I have received and read with great pleasure your address of 
the 1st of September, which, in this kind of vva-iting, with a few 
explanations, may be considered as a model of sense and spirit, 
as well as of taste and eloquence. 

Is there any mode imaginable in which contempt of the un- 
derstanding and feelings of a nation can be expressed with so 
much aggravation, as by affecting to treat the government of 
their choice as an usurpation? 

If in some instances marks of disaffection have appeared in 
your State, it is indeed exceedingly to be regretted. If this has 
been owing to the influx of foreigners, of discontented charac- 
ters, it ought to be a warning. If we glory in making our 
country an asylum for virtue in distress and for innocent indus- 
try, it behoves us to beware, that under this pretext it is not 
made a receptacle of malevolence and turbulence, for the out- 
casts of the universe. 

The conduct of France must not disgrace the cause of free 
governments. With the tears and the blood of millions, she 


has demonstrated that a free government must be organized 
and adjusted with a strict attention to the nature of man, and 
the interests and passions of the various classes of which society 
is composed ; but she has not made any rational apology for 
the advocates of despotic government. Society cannot exist 
without laws, and those laws must be executed. In nations 
that are populous, opulent, and powerful, the concurrent inte- 
rests of great bodies of men operate very forcibly on their 
passions, break down the barriers of modesty, decency, and 
morality, and can be restrained only by force ; but there are 
methods of combining the public force in such a manner as to 
restrain the most formidable combinations of interests, passions, 
imagination, and prejudice, without recourse to despotic govern- 
ment. To these methods it is to be hoped the nations of Europe 
will have recourse, rather than to surrender all to military dic- 
tators or hereditary despots. 

John Adams. 


26 September, 1798. 

I have received with great pleasure your address of the 14th 
of this month, and I know not whether any that has been pub- 
lished contains more important matter or juster sentiments. It 
must be great perverseness and depravity in any, who can 
represent the late acts of government, and the necessary mea- 
sin-es of self-defence taken by Congress, as a coalition with 
Great Britain. It may be useful, however, to analyze our 
ideas upon this subject. If by a coalition with Great Britain 
be meant a return as colonies under the government of that 
country, I declare I know of no individual in America who 
would consent to it, nor do I believe that Great Britain would 
receive us in that character. Sure I am it would be in her the 
blindest policy she ever conceived, for she has already the most 
incontestable proof that she cannot govern us. If by a coalition 
be meant a perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, can it be 


supposed that two thirds of the Senate of the United States 
would advise or consent to it without necessity ? Besides, is 
any one certain that Britain would agree to it, if we should 
propose it? I believe Americans in general have already seen 
enough of perpetual alliances. Nevertheless, if France has 
made or shall make herself our enemy, and has forced or shall 
force upon us a war in our own defence, can we avoid being 
useful to Britain while we are defending ourselves ? Can Bri- 
tain avoid being useful to us while defending herself or annoying 
her enemy ? Would it not be a want of wisdom in both to avoid 
any opportunity of aiding each other? 

Your civilities to me are very obliging, and deserve my best 

John Adams. 

to the inhabitants of the town of newbern, north 



An address so cordial and respectful as this from the citizens 
of Newbern, and your warm approbation of my conduct since 
I have filled the office of chief magistrate of the United States, 
I ought to hold in the highest estimation. 

I was indeed called to it at a crisis fraught with difficulty 
and danger, when neither skill in the management of affairs, 
more improved than any I could pretend to, nor the purest 
integrity of intention, could secure an entire exemption from 
involuntary error, much less from censure. 

There have been for many years strong indications that no- 
thing would satisfy the rulers of the French, but our taking with 
them an active part in the war against all their enemies, and 
exhausting the last resources of our property to support them, 
not only in the pursuit of their chimerical ideas of liberty, but 
of universal empire. This we were not only under no obliga- 
tion to do, but had reason to believe would have ruined the 
laws, constitution, and the morals of our country, as well as 
our credit and property. 

An ardent enthusiasm, indeed, deluded for a long time too 
many of our worthy citizens. 



The honor of your testimony to the integrity of my endeavors 
in so difficult a conjuncture, is very precious to my heart. 

As the hostile views and nefarious designs of the French 
republic are now too notorious to be denied or extenuated, I 
believe with you, that the love of our common country will 
produce a cordial unanimity of sentiment. 

This patriotic and spirited address is a clear indication of 
such desirable union, and will have a powerful tendency to en- 
courage, strengthen, and promote it. 

John Adams. 


26 September, 1798. 

An address from seven thousand two hundred and ninety- 
four men, a number sufficient to compose a respectable army, 
giving assurance of their approbation of public measures, and 
their determination as men and soldiers to support them with 
their lives, must be a pleasing appearance to every lover of his 
country. There is no part of the union from which such senti- 
ments could be received with more cordial satisfaction than 
from the virtuous cultivators and independent planters of the 
populous and powerful State of North Carolina. It is happy 
for us, and it will be fortunate for the cause of free government, 
that America can still unite in the most heartfelt satisfaction, 
at seeing the military reins placed in the hands of the present 
Commander-in-chief. Your prayers for my life, health, and 
prosperity demand my best thanks, and a return of mine for 
yours with the same sincerity of heart. 

John Adams. 


to the grand jurors of the county of hampshire, 


3 October, 1798. 


I have received with much pleasure your address of the 28th 
of September from Northampton. 

The manifestations of your respect, approbation, and confi- 
dence are very flattering to me, and your determination to 
support the Constitution and laws of your country is honorable 
to yourselves. If a new order of things has commenced, it 
behoves us to be cautious, that it may not be for the worse. 
If the abuse of Christianity can be annihilated or diminished, 
and a more equitable enjoyment of the right of conscience in- 
troduced, it will be well ; but this will not be accomplished by 
the abolition of Christianity and the introduction of Grecian 
mythology, or the worship of modern heroes or heroines, by 
erecting statues of idolatry to reason or virtue, to beauty or to 
taste. It is a serious problem to resolve, whether aU the abuses 
of Christianity, even in the darkest ages, when the Pope deposed 
princes and laid nations under his interdict, were ever so bloody 
and cruel, ever bore down the independence of the human 
mind with such terror and intolerance, or taught doctrines 
which required such implicit credulity to believe, as the present 
reign of pretended philosophy in France. 

John Adams. 

TO the inhabitants of MACHIAS, district of MAINE. 

5 October, 1798. 


I have received and considered your elegant address of the 
10th August. Although you reside in a remote part of the 
United States, it is very manifest you have not been inattentive 
or indifferent spectators of the dangerous encroachments of a 


foreign nation. You are of opinion that no connection with 
the present governors of that nation or their agents, ought to be 
sought or desired. Your country, I presume, will not meanly 
sue for peace, or engage in war from motives of ambition, vanity, 
or revenge. I presume further, that she will never again suffer 
her ambassadors to remain in France many days or hours 
unacknowledged, without an audience of the sovereign, unpro- 
tected and unprivileged, nor to enter into conferences or conver- 
sations with any agents or emissaries, who have not a regular 
commission of equal rank with their own, and who shall not 
have shown their original commission and exchanged official 
copies with them. While extraordinary circumstances are our 
apology for the past deviation from established rules, founded 
in unquestionable reason and propriety, the odious conse- 
quences of it will be an everlasting admonition to avoid the 
like for the future. At present we have only to prepare for 

John Adams. 

to the officers of the first brigade of the third divi- 
sion of the militia of massachusetts. 

11 October, 1798. 


I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier- 
General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, ani- 
mated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military 
dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on 
which it was adopted. 

While our country remains untainted with the principles and 
manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts 
of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of 
insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest rea- 
son to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. 
But should the people of America once become capable of that 
deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign na- 
tions, which assumes the language of justice and moderation 
while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays 


in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, 
frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and inso- 
lence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the 
world; because we have no government armed with power 
capable of contending with human passions unbridled by mo- 
rality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, 
would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale 
goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a 
moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the 
government of any other. 

An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight 
hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able 
and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe 
themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division 
of the militia which has done so much honor to its country. 

Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as 
sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly 
repeated on that venerable spot, is an ample pledge of your 
sincerity and devotion to yovir country and its government. 

John Adams. 

to the officers of the guilford regiment of militia, and 
the inhabitants of guilford county, north carolina. 

19 October, 1798. 


The unanimous address adopted by you, has been transmitted, 
as you directed, by Major John Hamilton to Mr. Steele, and by 
Mr. Steele to me. 

Addresses like yours, so friendly to me and so animated with 
public spirit, can never stand in need of any apology. It is, on 
the contrary, very true, that the affectionate addresses of my 
fellow-citizens have flowed in upon me, from various parts of 
the Union, in such numbers, that it has been utterly impossible 
for me to preserve any regularity in my answers, without neglect- 
ing the indispensable daily duties of my office. This, and a long 
continued and very dangerous sickness in my family, most 

VOL. IX. 20 


seriously alarming to me, will, I hope, be accepted by you, and 
by all others whose favors have not been duly noticed, as an 
apology for a seeming neglect, which has been a very great 
mortification to me. There is no language within my com- 
mand, sufficient to express the satisfaction I have felt at the 
abundant proofs of harmony and unanimity among the people, 
especially in the southern States, and in none more remark- 
ably than in North Carolina. 

Your patriotic address, adopted on the ground where a me- 
morable battle was fought by freemen, on the 15th of March, 
1781, in defence of their liberties and independence, is peculiarly 
forcible and affecting. 

John Adams. 



31 October, 1798. 


An address so full of attachment to the Constitution, confi- 
dence in the government, and respect and affection to me, 
adopted by so large a portion of the militia, and subscribed by 
so long a list of respectable officers, demands my most respect- 
ful and affectionate acknowledgments. 

The honest zeal of our countrymen for a cause which they 
thought connected with liberty and humanity, might lead some 
of them to intemperate irregularities, which a sound discretion 
and strict policy could not justify ; and these might lead the 
French government and their agents into some of the unwar- 
rantable measures they have hazarded. Wisdom will teach us 
a lesson from this experience, to be more upon our guard in 
future, more slow to speak, and more swift to hear. It should 
even teach us to be cautious, that we may not be hurried into 
a contrary extreme. 

The acceptance of General Washington has commanded the 
admiration of all men of principle. A soul so social and public 
as his could not live tranquil in retirement in a country bleeding 
around him. Those who were most delighted with the thought 


of his undisturbed happiness in retreat, after a life of anxiety, 
cannot but approve of his resolution to take the field again 
with his fellow-citizens, and close his long glories in active life, 
in case his countiy should be invaded. 

I am happy if my answer to the young men of Augusta has 
your approbation, and receive and return with gratitude your 
kind wishes for my health and happiness. 

John Adams. 


3 April, 1799. 


Your obliging address at the Circuit Court of the State, in 
the March term of this year, has been transmitted to me by 
Elisha Boudinot, Esquire, one of the Justices of your Supreme 
Court, according to your request. 

The indignation you express at the combinations to resist the 
operation of the laws, is evincive of the dispositions of good 
citizens, and does you much honor. That infatuation which 
alone can excite citizens to rise in arms against taxes laid in 
consideration of the necessities of the State, and with great 
deliberation, by their representatives, and which induces an 
obvious necessity of raising more taxes, in order to defray the 
expense of suppressing their own presumptuous folly, is indeed 
surprising. That the laws must be obeyed in a government of 
laws, is an all important lesson. For what can be more de- 
structive of liberty and property than government without law, 
whether in one, few, or many? Insurrection itself is govern- 
ment assumed, and without law, though partial and temporary, 
and without right. 

While the door is not closed by any foreign compact, or by 
obvious principles of policy or justice, it will always by me 
be held open, from a sense of my duty, for an accommodation 
of differences with any and all nations, however " powerful, 
insidious, or dangerous " they may be supposed to be, unless I 
could see a probable prospect of rendering them less so by our 


interference. "Dangers to the peace, rights, and liberties of 
mankind," arising from their corruptions and divisions, are too 
numerous to be controlled by us, who from our situation have 
of all nations the least colorable pretensions to assume the 
balance and the rod. If we are forced into the scale, it will be 
against our inclination and judgment; and however light we 
may be thought to be, we will weigh as heavy as we can. 

The end of even war is peace. Your approbation gives me 
pleasure. Whenever we have enemies, it will be their own 
fault; and they will be under no necessity of continuing ene- 
mies longer than they choose. In the present crisis, however, 
we ought to continue, with unabated ardor, all our preparations 
and operations of defence. 

John Adams. 

to the citizens, inhabitants of the mississippi territory. 

8 April, 1799. 


With much pleasure I have received, through your able and 
faithful Governor, your obliging address of the 5th of January. 

As your situation on a frontier of the United States, near a 
nation under whose government many of you have lived, and 
with whose inhabitants you are well acquainted, qualifies you 
in a particular manner to maintain a benevolent, pacific, and 
friendly conduct towards your neighbors, and entitles you to a 
return of a similar behavior from them ; it is to be hoped and 
expected that the peace and friendship between the two nations 
will be by these means preserved and promoted, and that the 
eiTiissaries of no other nation that may be hostile, will be able 
to destroy or diminish your mutual esteem and regard. 

The sentiments of attachment to the Constitution which you 
avow, are such as become the best Americans, and will secure 
you the confidence of government, and the esteem and affection 
of your fellow-citizens throughout the Union. 

John Adams. 


to the inhabitants of the city of washington. 

5 June, 1800. 


I receive with pleasure, in this address, your friendly welcome 
to the city, and particularly this place. I congratulate you 
on the blessings which Providence has been pleased to bestow 
in a particular manner on this situation, and especially on its 
destination to be the permanent seat of government. May the 
future councils of this august temple be forever governed by 
truth and liberty, friendship, virtue, and faith, which, as they are 
themselves the chief good and principal blessings of human 
nature, can never fail to insure the union, safety, prosperity, and 
glory of America ! 

John Adams. 


11 June, 1800. 


I receive from the citizens of Alexandria this kind salutation 
on my first visit to Virginia with much pleasure. In the earlier 
part of my life, I felt, at some times, an inexpressible grief, and 
at others, an unutterable indignation, at the injustice and indig- 
nities which I thought wantonly heaped on my innocent, vir- 
tuous, peaceable, and unoffending country. And perceiving 
that the American people, from New Hampshire to Georgia, 
felt and thought in the same manner, I determined, refusing all 
favors and renouncing all personal obligations to the aggressors, 
to run every hazard with my countrymen, at their invitation, by 
sea and land, in opposition and resistance, well knowing that if 
we should be unfortunate, all the pains and all the disgrace 
which injustice and cruelty could inflict, would be the destina- 
tion of me and mine. Providence smiled on our well-meant 
endeavours, and perhaps in no particular more remarkably than 
in giving us your incomparable Washington for the leader of 
our armies. Our country has since enjoyed an enviable tran- 



quillity and uncommon prosperity. We are grown a great 
people. This city, and many others which I have seen since I 
left Philadelphia, exhibit very striking proofs of our increase, on 
which I congratulate you. May no error or misfortune throw 
a veil over the bright prospect before us ! 

John Adams. 


1 July, 1800. 


I receive with sincere satisfaction this testimony of esteem 
from the corporation of this respectable city of New London. 

The part I took in our important and glorious revolution was 
the effect of a sense of duty ; of the natural feelings of a man for 
his native country and the native country of his ancestors for 
several generations ; of all the principles, moral, civil, political, 
and religious, in which I had been educated ; and if it had been 
even more injurious than it has been, or ever so destructive to 
my private affairs, or ruinous to my family, I should never 
repent it. I did but concur with my fathers, friends, fellow- 
citizens, and countrymen, in their sensations and reflections, 
and lay no claim to more than a common share with them in 
the result. 

It would be devoutly and eternally to be deplored, if this 
most glorious achievement, or the principal characters engaged 
in it, should ever fall into disgrace in the eyes of Americans. 

In return for your kind wishes, gentlemen, I wish you every 

John Adams. 


to the inhabitants of the county of edgecombe, north 


15 August, 1800. 


I received last night, and have read with serious concern, 
mingled with lively sentiments of gratitude, your animated 
address. As, from the nature of our government, the choice of 
the first magistrate will generally fall on men advanced in years, 
we ought to be prepared to expect frequent changes of persons, 
from accidents, infirmities, and death, if not from election ; but 
it is to be presumed that the good sense and integrity of the 
people, which the Constitution supposes, will indicate characters 
and principles, that may continue the spirit of an administra- 
tion which has been found salutary and satisfactory to the 
nation, when persons must be changed. I cannot give up the 
hope that to be active in fault finding, and clamorous against 
wise laws and just measures of government, is not to be most 
popular. When popularity becomes so corrupt, if it cannot be 
corrected, all is lost. 

For forty years my mind has been so entirely occupied and 
engrossed with public cares, that I have not been able to give 
much attention to any thing else. Whatever advantages this 
country may have derived from my feeble efforts, I wish they 
had been much greater, and less disputable. If any disadvan- 
tages have resulted from them, I hope they will be pardoned, as 
the effect of involuntary error — for I will be bold to say, no 
man ever served his country with purer intentions, or from 
more disinterested motives. 

You may rely upon this, that, as, on the one hand, I never 
shall love war, or seek it for the pleasure, profit, or honor of it, 
so, on the other, I shall never consent to avoid it, but upon 
honorable terms. 

Very far am I from thinidng your determination desperate, 
to risk your lives and fortunes in support of your constitutional 
rights and privileges. I perceive no disposition in the American 
people to go to war with each other ; and no foreign hostilities 


that can be apprehended in a just and necessary cause, have 
any terrors for you or me. 

Your fervent prayer for the long continuance of my days, 
shall be accompanied by mine, for the much longer continuance 
of your laws, liberties, prosperity, and felicity. 

John Adams. 

to the senate and house of representatives of 


26 March, 1801. 

The very respectful, affectionate, and obliging address, which 
has been presented to me by the President of the Senate and 
Speaker of the House of Representatives, by your order, has 
awakened all my sensibility, and demands iny most grateful 

As the various testimonials of the approbation and affection 
of my fellow-citizens of Massachusetts, which have been in- 
dulged to me from my earliest youth, have ever been esteemed 
the choicest blessings of my life, so this final applause of the 
legislature, so generously given after the close of the last scene 
of the last act of my political drama, is more precious than any 
which preceded it. There is now no greater felicity remaining 
for me to hope or desire, than to pass the remainder of my days 
in repose, in an undisturbed participation of the common privi- 
leges of our fellow-citizens under your protection. 

The satisfaction you have found in the administration of the 
general government from its commencement, is highly agreeable 
to me; and I sincerely hope that the twelve years to come will 
not be less prosperous or happy for our country. 

With the utmost sincerity, I reciprocate your devout suppli- 
cations, for the happiness of yourselves, your families, consti- 
tuents, and posterity. 

John Adams. 







The antipathy secretly entertained by Alexander Hamilton to John Adams, 
dating its origin so far back as the first years of the revolutionary war, inter- 
mitted but once, and ending in three successive attempts to undermine his posi- 
tion as a candidate for the chief official posts of the country, only the last of 
which proved effective, is now rendered apparent even by the incomplete publi- 
cation that has been lately made of Hamilton's papers. It was not, however, 
until the death of General Washington, that the avowed disinclination of Mr. 
Adams further to pursue the war policy with France, and to intrust to that 
gentleman the chief command of the army, led to an open declaration of enmity. 
The pamphlet then composed by him, entitled, " The public conduct and cha- 
racter of John Adams, Esquire, President of the United States," was unques- 
tionably intended to destroj^Mr. Adams's chance of reelection, at all hazards, 
although it was found necessary to apologize for the act to the great body of 
the federal party, whom it was sure simultaneously to destroy, by giving it the 
shape of a secret effort to turn the scale in the House of Eepresentatives in favor 
of Mr. C. C. Pinckney, Ukewise a federalist, over Mr. Adams, which two gentle- 
men were to be brought there upon an electoral majority exactly equal. Any 
other construction than this Impeaches Mr. Hamilton's political sagacity and 
foresight too much to be admissible. It is scarcely to be imagined that such a 
document, once . put into a printer's hands, could fail to escape the lynx eyes of 
the hostile politicians of New York, headed by a man so acute as Aaron Burr. 
In addition, it may be shown that Mr. Hamilton had taken the trouble personally 
to reconnoitre beforehand the ground In New England, whereby he became 
convinced that the scheme of an equal vote for Mr. Pinckney was not likely to 
succeed, and that Immediately upon his return he avowed publication as a part 
of his design.^ That he did not persevere In this, was owing to the suggestions 
of his political friends rather than to his own Inchnatlon. 

1 Hamilton to Wolcott. 3d August. WorJcs, vol. vi. p. 450. The same to Bayard, 
p. 452. 



As it was, the pamphlet appeared surreptitiously, whilst Mr. Adams Avas Pre- 
sident, and when he could take no notice of it without materially compromising 
the dignity of his position. But after his tei'm expired in March, 1801, it seems 
that he addressed himself to the labor of a reply, and j>repared the materials 
which he designed to use. The reason why he did not perfect his design, is 
nowhere explained. Possibly it might have grown out of the condition of 
things consequent upon Mr. JefFel-son's accession to the Presidency, which fur- 
nished little chance for a favorable hearing in any quarter. Perhaps it may 
have been owing to the fall of Mr. Hamilton. A large portion of the federal 
party, which he had represented, was giving in its adhesion to Mr. Jefferson, 
whilst the rest was dwindling down to a fragment in the northern and eastern 
States, exclusively under the guidance of those individuals with whom he had 
come to a rupture, in sentiment if not in action, during his own administration. 
The new policy these persons were pursuing was one with which he could as 
little sympathize as with the old one. Yet he preserved total silence until a,t- 
tacks were revived upon him, and upon his son John Quincy Adams, on account 
of opinions expressed upon later questions. It happ ened that in 1809^ an 
extract from the Baltimore Federal Republican, met his eye, in which, among 
I other things, the old charges were repeated against him for instituting the mls- 
^ I sion of 1799 to France, the gravest article in the pamphlet of Mi*. Hamilton; 
' and this led to an extended pubUcation of documents and reasonings in the 
columns of the Boston Patriot, touching a large part of his public career, but a 
portion of which is to be found collected in the volume, entitled " Correspond- 
' ence of the late President Adams," published in Boston the same year. 

For reasons already given, it has been deemed unadvisable to reprint these 
materials as they appear in the Patriot. Two separate extracts, complete in 
themselves, are now given. The first is confined to Mr. Adams's defence of 
himself against Mr. Hamilton's attack, This step is made necessary by the 
republication of that pamphlet in the works of that gentleman. It is proper to 
state that, although written in 1809, the substantial facts were drawn from the 
'^ fragments prepared in 1801. This is to be kept in mind, the more because 
Mr. GibbSj^in his late work, has endeavored to do, what none of the persons 
alluded to ever attempted in their lifetime, — dispute the accuracy of the narra- 
tive, as if composed merely from the impaired recollection of a later period. 

It is true that, in a few particulars, incidental additions are made, which show 
haste in the preparation of the later production, as well as inattention to the 
exact order of the details; but these errors will not be found to affect the 
force of the facts, or of the argument, in any essential point. Whatever they 
are, it is believed they are all mentioned and corrected in the notes. Such por- 
tions of the materials prepared in 1801, as are deemed useful to compare with 
the text, are also appended, together with references to any passages elsewhere 
in this work, and in other works, that appear to furnish light upon this obscure 
and disputed portion of American history. An endeavor has been made to 
sti'ip the consideration of the questions involved of all the acrimony that origin- 
ally attached to them, and to confine the comments as much as possible to a 
simple elucidation of the facts. 

The second extract embraces an examination of a question of a different 
nature, and connected with a later period of American politics. 



I was glad to see in your paper of the 7th of this month the 
extract from the Baltimore Federal Republican, for many reasons, 
which may be explained in due time. One or two may be 
stated now. 

1. I was pleased with the candid acknowledgment, that " Mr. 
Adams never was a favorite with the leading' men of the federal 
party." The \vords leading- men will require some explanation, 
and some limitations and restrictions which may hereafter ap- 
pear. But, in general, this is a truth which I have known for 
twenty years, though it has never been publicly avowed, to my 
knowledge, till now. 

2. I am happy to see, what I consider as an acknowledgment, 
that my unpardonable sin against the federal party, or rather 
against those leading men, was the peace with France in 1800 — 
an event which has given this country eight years of its most 
splendid prosperity. The writer mentions the mission to France 
in 1799, as a measure which brought odium and ridicule on my, 
administration. If you will allow me a little room in your 
Patriot, I may hereafter produce proofs to the satisfaction of 
the public, that this measure was neither odious nor ridiculous. 
At this time I will only send you a communication from Gene- 
ral Washington, by which it will appear that the subject was 
not seen by that great ornament of his country in the same light 
in which this writer sees it.^ 

• ••••••••• 

The letter from Mr. Barlow^, inclosed in General Washing- 
ton's, is in these words.^ 

Neither Mr. Barlow's letter nor General Washington's opinion 
would have influenced me to nominate a minister, if I had not 
received abundant assurances to the same effect from regular 

1 Here follows a letter of General Washington, wliicli Is now omitted, as it 
can be readily found in Mr. Sparks's edition of his writings. Vol. xi. p. 399. 

2 Mr. Bai'low's letter is printed in Sparks's Washington, vol. xi. Appendix, 
p. 560. 

VOL. IX. 21 p 


diplomatic sources.^ I, however, considered General Washing- 
ton's question, whether Mr. Barlow's was written with a very 
good or a very bad design ; and as, with all my jealousy, I had 
not sagacity enough to discover the smallest room for suspicion 
of any ill design, I frankly concluded that it was written with a 
very good one. 

From General Washington's letter it appears, 1st. That it 
was his opinion that the restoration of peace upon just, honor- 
able, and dignified terms was the ardent desire of all the friends 
of this rising empire. 2d. That he thought negotiation might 
be brought on upon open, fair, and honorable ground. 3d. That 
he was so desirous of peace, that he was willing to enter into 
correspondence with Mr. Barlow, a private gentleman, without 
any visible credentials or public character, or responsibility to 
either government, in order to bring on a public negotiation. 
General Washington, therefore, could not consider the negotia- 
tion odious. 


The institution of an embassy to France, in 1799, was made 
upon principle, and in conformity to a system of foreign affairs, 
formed upon long deliberation, established in my mind, and 
amply opened, explained, and supported in Congress, — that is, 
a system of eternal neutrality, if possible, in all the wars of Eu- 
rope, — at least eighteen years before President Washington's 
Proclamation of Neutrality, in 1794. For the truth of the an- 
tiquity of this system, I appeal to Judge Chase, who made the 
first motion in Congress for entering into foreign relations. 
This motion was made in concert with me, and was seconded 
by me. If I am incorrect in any circumstance, that gentleman 
can set me right. And here I feel a pride in acknowledging 
that perhaps no two members of Congress were at that time 
upon more intimate terms. We flickered, disputed, and wrangled 
in public and private, but always with a species of good humor 
that never was suffered to diminish the confidence, esteem, or 
affection of either in the other. I have long wished for a fair 
opportunity of transmitting to posterity my humble testimony 

^ Mr. Adams's answer to General Washington is printed in this work. Vol. viii. 
p. 624. 


to the virtues and talents of that able and upright magistrate 
and statesman. 

Our system was, to form treaties of commerce with France, 
Spain, Holland, and all the other nations of Europe, even with 
England herself, upon a footing of entire equality ; but by no 
means to form any political or military connections with any 
power in Europe, or engage in any hostilities against any, 
unless driven to them by necessity to support our independence 
and honor, or our just and necessary interests. In what man- 
ner and by whose means this plan has ever been abandoned in 
any degree, I could detail from step to step, but it would require 
a volume, and is not necessary here. It has never been forgot- 
ten by me ; but the rectitude and wisdom of it has been con- 
firmed by every year's and day's experience from 1776 to 1799, 
and indeed to 1809. 

This introduction will be called pompous, no doubt, and it 
will be thought an astonishing instance of the bathos to descend 
from Judge Chase to Mr. Logan; but my plan requires it. 

With this system clear in my head, and deeply impressed 
upon my heart, it was with the utmost reluctance that I found 
myself under a necessity, in 1798, of having recourse to hostili- 
ties against France. But the conduct of that government had 
been so unjust, arbitrary, and insolent, as to become intolerable. 
I therefore animated this^nation to war, determined, however^ 
to listen to every proposal, and embrace the first opportunity to 
restore peace, whenever it could be done consistently with the 
honor and interest of the country. In this spirit I gave all due 
attention and consideration to General Washington's and Mr. 
Barlow's letters ; nor was I wholly inattentive to a multitude 
of other circumstances, some of which shall be mentioned. 

Perhaps at no period of our connection with France has there 
ever been such a flood of private letters from that country to 
this as in the winter of 1798 and 1799. The contents of many 
of them were directly or indirectly communicated to me. They 
w^ere all in a similar strain with that of Mr. Barlow, that the 
French government had changed their ground, and were sincerely 
disposed to negotiation and accommodation. I will instance 
only two. Mr. Codman, of Boston, wrote largely and explicitly 
to his friends to the same purpose ; and his worthy brother, the 
late Mr. John Codman, of Boston, not only communicated to 


me the substance of his brother's letters, but thanked me, in 
warm terms, for opening a negotiation ; and added, that every 
true friend of this country, who was not poisoned with party 
spirit, would thank me for it and support me in it. Mr. Natha- 
niel Cutting, a consul in France under President Washington's 
appointment, and a sensible man, wrote almost as largely as 
Mr. Barlow, and to the same effect. 

I shall conclude this letter with another anecdote. Mr. Lo- 
gan, of Philadelphia, a gentleman of fortune and education, and 
certainly not destitute of abilities, who had for several years 
been a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania, and has 
since been a senator of the United States, though I knew he 
had been one of the old constitutional party in that State, and 
a zealous disciple of that democratical school, which has propa- 
gated many errors in America, and, perhaps, many tragical 
catastrophes in Europe, went to France, either with the pretext 
or the real design of improving his knowledge in agiicultui-e, 
and seeing the practice of it in that country. I had no reason 
to believe him a corrupt character, or deficient in memory or 
veracity. After his return he called upon me, and in a polite 
and respectful manner informed me that he had been honored 
with conversations with Talleyrand, who had been well ac- 
quainted with me, and repeatedly entertained at my house, and 
now visited me at his request to express to me the desire of the 
Directory as well as his own, to accommodate all disputes with 
America, and to forget all that was past ; to request me to 
send a minister from America, or to give credentials to some 
one already in Europe, to treat; and to assure me that my 
minister should be received, and all disputes accommodated, in 
a manner that would be satisfactory to me and my country. 
I knew the magical words. Democrat and Jacobin^ were enough 
to destroy the credibility of any witness with some people. 
But not so with me, I saw marks of candor and sincerity in 
this relation, that convinced me of its truth. 

But the testimonies of Mr. Codman, Mr. Cutting, Mr. Bar- 
low, and Mr. Logan, and all other private communications, 
though they might convince my own mind, would have had 
no influence to dispose me to nominate a minister, if I had not 
received authentic, regular, official, diplomatic assurances, which 
may be sent you in another letter. 



From Mr. Murray, the American minister at the Hague, who 
had been appointed by President Washington, I received assur- 
ances from the French government similar to those in Mr. Bar- 
low's letter and so many others. They were conveyed from the 
French Directory to Mr. Pichon, secretary of the legation and 
charge des affaires of the French republic near the Batavian 
republic, in the absence of the French ambassador, by him 
officially communicated to Mr. Murray, and by him to the Exe- 
cutive of the United States. The communication was in these 

This letter was transmitted by Mr. Murray to the American 
government, and I own I am not acquainted with any words, 
either in the French or English language, which could have 
expressed in a more solemn, a more explicit, or a more decided 
manner, assurances of all that I had demanded as conditions 
of negotiation. How could I get rid of it with honor, or even 
without infamy? If ever there was a regular diplomatic com- 
munication, this was one. The diplomatic organs were all 
perfect and complete. Mr. Pichon was well known at Phila- 
delphia, where he had resided some years in a public employ- 
ment in the family of the French ambassador, as a respectable 
man and a man of letters. He was now secretary of legation, 
held a commission from his sovereign as much as a minister 
plenipotentiary ; and every secretary of legation in the absence 
of his principal minister, is, of course, charge des affaires; and 
the acts of a charge des affaires are as official, as legal, and 
authentic, as those of an ambassador extraordinary. 

In what other manner could Mr. Talleyrand have transmitted 
the assurances demanded ? He had communicated them to 
Mr. Gerry, but was desirous of sending them by another way, 
that he might increase the chances of their arrival. At war 
with England, he could not send them to Mr. King. If he had 
sent them to Madrid, to Colonel Humphreys, there was no pro- 
bability of their arriving in America so soon as through Holland. 

^ This communication has been already printed in this work, in its connection 
with the letters of Mr Murray. Vol. viii. Appendix, p. 690. 



If he had sent them to Berlin, to Mr. Adams, the course would 
have been still more circuitous, and the probability much greater 
of long delay and uncertain arrival. If he had sent them to 
Mr. Smith, at Lisbon, there would have been the same difficul- 
ties. Of all the diplomatic organs, therefore, in Europe, he 
chose the best, the shortest, the safest, and the most certain. 

Mr. Gerry's letter to the Secretary of State, dated Nantasket 
Road, October the 1st, 1798, confirmed these assurances beyond 
all doubt, in my mind, and his conversations with me at my own 
house, in Quincy, if any thing further had been wanting, would 
have corroborated the whole. As I have not a copy of that gen- 
tleman's letter, if he should chance to read this papei*, I ask the 
favor of him to publish copies of his letter and of Mr. Talley- 
rand's letters to him, and, if he pleases, to repeat the assurances 
he gave me in conversation.^ This gentleman's merit in this 
transaction was very great. It has been treated like all his 
other sacrifices, services, and sufferings in the cause of his 

If, with all this information, I had refused to institute a nego- 
tiation, or had not persevered in it after it was instituted, I should 
have been degraded in my own estimation as a man of honor; 
I should have disgraced the nation I represented, in their own 
opinion and in the judgment of all Europe. 

1 Note by Mr. Gerry : " The ' assurances ' to wliich ]\Ir. Adams lias referred 
as Laving been imparted to him in conversation by Mr. Gerry, are presumed by 
the latter to have reference to those which the French Directory made to him 
by their minister, Mr. Talleyrand, and by confidential persons, after the depart- 
ure of the other envoys. They were expressed in the strongest terms to evince 
the disposition of the Directory for accommodating all subjects of difference 
between the two republics ; for accrediting any minister or ministers which 
should thereafter have been sent by the United States, immediately on the pre- 
sentment of their letters of credence ; for adopting a commercial treaty that 
should be liberal and beneficial to the said States ; and for making effectual ar- 
rangements to discharge the numerous and just demands of American citizens 
on the French republic. Indeed, the ' assurances ' were such as that any depart- 
ure from them must have forfeited any subsequent claim of credit on the part 
of the French republic." 

Mr. Gerry further published in the Boston Patriot, extracts from his papers, 
which make a part of the volume from which the text is taken. At that time 
they were not readily accessible elsewhere. But they are now omitted, on 
account of the space they would occupy. They may be found in Wait's State 
Papers, as follows ; viz. : 

1. E. Gerry to C. M. Talleyrand, 1 October, 1798, vol. iv. pp. 154-1G9. 

2. C. M. Talleyrand to E. Gerry, 22 July, 1798, pp. 220-221. 

3. The same to the same, 3 August, 1798, p. 222. 

4. Substance of a conference with the Dutch minister, 25 July, 1798, p. 228. 



When I had received that authentic act of the sovereign 
authority of France, a copy of which is inserted in my last letter 
to you, communicated by their Secretary of State, through their 
secretary of legation and charge des affaires, and our minister 
at the Hague, fully complying with all my requisitions, upon 
mature deliberation I determined to nominate a minister to 
France. Some of the communications from France had been 
accompanied with intimations concerning the characters proper 
to be employed, which I thought exceptionable, and that they 
might be made a pretext for again rejecting a minister. I con- 
sidered, moreover, that France was an undulating ocean in a 
violent storm ; party had exterminated party, and constitution 
had succeeded constitution, as billow rolls and roars, froths and 
foams after billow in the Gulf Stream. I knew that in the 
nature of things an executive authority in five persons could 
not last long in France or anywhere else ; and we were already 
informed that the Directory was divided into parties, three 
against two, and that the majority in the legislative assembly 
adhered to the two, and the minority to the three. A revolution 
then was to be expected, and the new government might not 
feel themselves bound by the assurances given by their prede- 
cessors. To avoid the possibility of these inconveniences, I 
provided as cautiously and effectually against them as I could, 
in my message to the Senate, which never has been published. 
If this message had been made public, with its contents — the 
public despatch from France — I have confidence enough in the 
candor of the nation to believe that it would have obviated 
many a silly and many a malicious criticism. It was in these 

In this manner effectual provision was made against any and 
every possible insidious use of the insinuations concerning cha- 
racters proper to be employed, and who would be likely to 
succeed. In this manner, also, provision was made against the 
po'^sible, and indeed highly probable and fully expected revolu- 
tion, in the French government. Mr. Murray was not to advance 

1 For this message, see p. 162 of this volume. 


a step towards Paris from the Hague, until after he should have 
received from the French government, whatever it might be, a 
repetition of assurances, officially communicated, that he in 
person should be received. 

When this message was received in the Senate, it was post- 
poned, as the greatest part of the executive business usually 
was, for consideration.^ A great clamor was raised among the 
members of the House of Representatives, and out of doors, and 
an abundance of squibs, scoffs, and sarcasms, in what were then 
called the federal newspapers, particularly Cobbett's Porcupine 
and John Ward Fenno's United States Gazette. And by whom 
were these written ? As I was informed, by Macdonald, the 
Scottish British commissioner for adjusting the claims of British 
creditors, and by William Smith, the British agent for claimants 
before that board of commissioners, of whom Macdonald was 
one. There were other writers besides these ; but I will not 
condescend to name any others at present. It was given out 
that John War d Fen no was the writer of the most important 
of them, and he was represented as a masterly writer, possessed 
of a most eloquent pen. But the pen tvas not his. 

This was not all. Something much more serious to me soon 
took place. A committee of the Senate called upon me, whether 
appointed on record or whether by private concert, I know not. 
I was distressed, because I thought the procedure unconstitu- 
tional. However, I was determined that not one disrespectful 
word should escape me concerning the Senate or any member 
of it, and to that resolution I carefully adhered; and in relating 
the conference with those honorable gentlemen, which shall 
appear in my next letter, the same decorum shall be observed. 


The gentlemen of the Senate informed me, that they came 
to confer with me on the subject of the nomination of Mr. Mur- 
ray to France ; that there was a considerable dissatisfaction 
with it, and they desired to know for what reasons I had pre- 

1 It was postponed partly to gain time to write to Mr. Hamilton. See the 
letters that passed between Mr. Sedgwick and Mr. Hamilton. The latter sug- 
gesting the enlargement of the mission. Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. pp. 396 - 397. 


ferred Mr. Murray to yo many others abroad and at home. My 
answer to the gentlemen was, that I thought Mr. Murray a 
gentleman of talents, address, and literature, as well as of great 
worth and honor, every way well qualified for the service, and 
fully adequate to all that I should require of him, which would 
be a strict compliance with his instructions, which I should take 
care to provide for him, on all points, in terms that he could not 
misunderstand. That my motives for nominating him in pre- 
ference to others, were simply because the invitation from the 
French government had been transmitted through him, and 
because he was so near to Paris that he might be there in three 
or four days, and because his appointment would cause a very 
trifling additional expense. 

They then inquired, why I had not nominated Mr. King. I 
answered that, if Mr. King had been in Holland, I certainly 
should not have thought of any other character. But he was 
our ambassador in England, then at Avar with France, and it 
would be considered by France as an insult to send them an 
ambassador, who, as soon as he had accomplished his business, 
was to return to England and carry with him all the information 
he might have collected in Paris. That the French government 
would suspect me of a design to send them a spy for the Court 
of St. James. That I presumed Mr. King at that time would 
not be pleased to be removed from England to France for 
perpetuity or permanence. Besides, that the difficulty of com- 
munication between England and France would necessarily 
occasion an indefinite delay in procuring the necessary pass- 
ports, and that much depended upon the promptitude and 
despatch with which the negotiation should be conducted. 

The gentlemen asked, why I had not nominated our minister 
plenipotentiary at Berlin. Neither the remarks with which 
they accompanied this question, nor the reasons which I gave 
them in answer, need to be detailed to the public. 

I added, " Gentlemen, I maturely considered all these things 
before I nominated Mr. Murray ; and I considered another 
gentleman, whom you have not mentioned, Mr. Humphreys, at 
Madrid ; but the same objections of distance and delay account 
in his case as well as that of Mr. Adams." The gentlemen all 
agreed that there would have been no advantage in nominating 
him, more than Mr. Murray. 


The gentlemen then inquired, why I had not nominated a 
commission of three or five, in preference to a single gentleman. 
The answer was, that I had had a long experience of ten years 
in this kind of business, had often acted in commissions with 
various other gentlemen, and I had three times been commis- 
sioned alone ; that I had found in general that business could 
be better done by one than by many, in much less time and 
with much less perplexity ; that the business to be done by Mr. 
Murray would be nothing more than obedience to his instruc- 
tions, and that would be performed as well by one as by three; 
that the delay must be great in sending gentlemen from Ame- 
rica, and the expense greatly augmented; that very much 
depended upon the celerity of the enterprise. 

The gentlemen thought that a commission would be more 
satisfactory to the Senate and to the public. I said, although 
this was not perfectly consonant to my own opinion, I could in 
such a case easily give up my own to the public; and if they 
advised it, I would send another message, and nominate a 
commission of three ; but Mr. Murray would be one, for after 
having brought his name before the public, I never would dis- 
grace him by leaving him out. The gentlemen acquiesced, and 
one of them, whom I took to be their chairman, was pleased 
to say, "after this very enlightened explanation of the whole 
business, I am perfectly satisfied." ^ The others appeared to 
acquiesce, and took their leave. The next morning I sent 
another message, which shall appear in my next letter. 


The message mentioned in my last letter was in these words.^ 

' The committee consisted of Messrs. Sedgwick, Bingham, Ross, Read, and 
Stockton, all federalists. If the first named is the one alluded to in the text, his 
own account, written to Mr. Hamilton, of this conference, which took place on 
Saturday evening, varies in regard to his expression of satisfaction, as well as 
in other particulars. He says, that Mr. Adams felt it his duty to insist upon the 
Senate's action on the nomination of Mr. Murray. And in case of a rejection, 
he would then propose the commission of three. In consequence of this, a meet- 
ing of federal senators was held at the house of Mr. Bingham, probably on 
Sunday evening, the 24th of February, at which it was determined to reject the 
nomination. The commission of three was nominated in a message sent on Mon- 
day morning. Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 399. 

2 See page 163 of this volume for this message. 


To these nominations the Senate advised and consented, and 
commissions were prepared. My friend, Mr. Henry, declined 
on account of his age, and Governor Davie, of North Carolina, 
was appointed in his place. Dmlng all this transaction, no 
motion was made in the Senate to pass a resolution that a 
mission to France was inexpedient. With the despatches from 
Talleyrand before his eyes, I believe no member of the Senate 
would have been willing to record his name in favor of such a 
resolution, among the yeas and nays. The deputation of sena- 
tors made no remonstrances to me against the mission, or the 
diplomatic communications on which it was founded, but only 
against the missionary, Mr. Murray .^ 

I sent an invitation to the heads of departments to assemble 
in my chamber, to consult upon the instructions to be given to 
our envoys. They all met me accordingly, and, in several long 
evenings,^ entered into a very serious and deliberate discussion 
of every article that was to be demanded and insisted on in the 
proposed treaty. They were all unanimously agreed upon to 
my entire satisfaction, and reduced to writing. I committed 
them to the Secretary of State to be reduced into proper form, 
to have a fair copy made and transmitted to me for revision, 
correction, or signature, as there might be occasion. 

The yellow fever was ex pected, and we were all obliged to 
fly for our lives : myself and all my family to Quincy, and the 
heads, of departments, with the public offices, to Trenton.^ 

I had repeatedly endeavored to impress upon the mind of the 
Secretary of State the necessity of transmitting to me as soon 
as possible his draught of the instructions, that they might be 
finished and signed, and every thing prepared for the departure 
of the envoys. I waited with much concern, expecting from 
day to day to receive the instructions; but no instructions 

1 Mr. Sedgwick's first letter is a curious specimen of the perplexity into which 
a political partisan will sometimes be thrown, by a measure, the bearings of 
which he has not taken time to understand. Hamilton's Works, vol. vi. p. 396. 

'■2 A slight error. The fact is correctly stated in the original fragment. There 
was one evening and one morning consultation. On the 10th of March the 
points were fully discussed. They were reduced to writing, and finally agreed 
upon the next day — the 11th — the same day on which Mr. Adams left Phila- 
delphia. See the points as finally transmitted, in vol. viii. p. 627. 

3 The offices were moved to Trenton in the latter part of August. The differ- 
ence is slight, but Mr. Gibbs seems to think it material. Mr. Pickering assigns 
it as a cause of the delay of the instructions. See page 23 of tliis volume. 
Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 272. 


appeared. At length, instead of them I received a letter signed 
by all five of the heads of departments, earnestly entreating me 
to suspend the mission I ^ 

I was astonished at this unexpected, this obstinate and perse- 
vering opposition to a measure that appeared so clearly to me 
to be so essential to the peace and prosperity of the nation, and 
the honor of the goverimient, at home and abroad. I was not a 
little surprised at the unanimity of the heads of departments, for 
two of them had always appeared moderate and candid in rela- 
tion to this mission. My instantaneous determination was to 
go to Trenton, meet the gentlemen face to face, to confer with 
them coolly on the subject, and convince them, or be convinced 
by them, if I could. On my way, I called upon Chief Justice 
Ellsworth, at his seat in Windsor, and had a conversation of 
perhaps two hours ^ with him. He was perfectly candid. What- 
ever should be the determination, he was ready at an hour's 
warning to comply. If it was thought best to embark imme- 
diately, he was ready. If it was judged more expedient to post- 
pone it for a little time, though that might subject him to a 
winter voyage, that danger had no "weight with him. If it was 
concluded to defer it till the spring, he was willing to wait. In 
this disposition I took leave of him. He gave me no intimation 
that he had any thought of a journey to Trenton.^ I lodged at 
Hartford, not yet purified of the yellow fever, and there I caught 
something very like it, or at least almost as bad, a most violent 
cold, attended with a constant fever, which rendered me for six 
weeks more fit for a chamber and bed of sickness than for 

uncomfortable journeys, or much labor of the head or hands. 
However, I would not consent to be retarded on my journey, 

1 This is not quite accurate. The instructions were sent on the 10th of Sep- 
tember and received on the 14th. The letter referred to was dated the 11th, 
and signed by Mr. Pickering only, but it had been approved by Messrs. Wolcott 
and McHenry, and concurred in by Mr. Stoddert. It was received on the 1 7th 
at night. Mr. Lee, as is stated a few lines below, was not at Trenton at the 
time ; and he did not agree to the sentiments. It is curious that Mr. Hamilton, 
in his pamphlet, likewise calls the letter a joint letter of the ministers. It cer- 
tainly was so regarded by those of them from whom he had his information, 
pp. 23 and 31 of this volume. 

2 This was on October 3d. Mr. Ellsworth, in a letter written, probably to 
Mr. Pickering, on the 5th October, says half an hour, according to Mr. Gibbs, 
but the letter is not given. The original draught says, " a long conversation." 
Gibbs's Federal Administrations, vol. ii. p. 267. 

3 See his own letter, written the same day, 5th October, p. 3 7 of this volume. 


and reacned Trenton, where Mr. Hamilton had arrived a few 
hours before me. Governor Davie had been there some time. 
Ill as I was, I sent for the heads of departments. Four of them 
were there. The Attorney- General was gone to Virginia. Many 
days ^ were employed in conferences with them, sometimes at 
my own apartments, and sometimes at their offices. 

The inhabitants of Trenton had been wrought up to a pitch of 
political enthusiasm that surprised me. The universal opinion 
appeared to be, that the first arrivals from Europe would bring 
the glorious news that Louis the XVIII. w"as restored to the 
throne of France, and reigning triumphantly at Versailles. Su- 
warrow, at the head of his victorious Russian army, was to 
have marched from Italy to Paris on one side, and Prince 
Charles, at the head of an Austrian army, was to have marched 
from Germany to Paris on the other, and detachments from 
both armies were to march down to Havre to receive the king, 
who was to be brought over by a British fleet and escorted with 
flying colors to Versailles. I could scarcely believe my own 
senses, when I heard such reveries. Yet the heads of depart- 
ments appeared to believe them, and urge them as decisive 
arguments for suspending the embarkation of our envoys till 
the spring. In vain did I urge the immense distances the two 
imperial armies had to march, the great number of towns and 
cities in the route of both, in positions chosen with great skill, 
fortified with exquisite art, defended by vast trains of heavy 
ordnance, garrisoned by numerous troops of soldiers perfectly 
disciplined, and animated with all the obstinacy and ardor of 
the revolutionary spirit. In vain did I allege the military 
maxim, which would certainly govern both Prince Charles and 
Suwarrow, that is, never to leave a fortified city in the rear of 
your army, in possession of your enemy; that the siege of one 
town would consume the whole season ; that neither the Rus- 
sians nor Austrians were, probably, provided with the mor- 
tars and heavy cannon necessary for sieges. Nothing would 
do — Louis XVIII. must be upon the throne of France. " Well, 
suppose he is, what harm will there be in embarking our envoys ? 
They will congratulate his Majesty, and if his Majesty cannot 
receive them under their credentials to the French republic, he 

' Six days. From the 10th to the 15th October, inclusive. 
VOL. IX. 22 


will be glad to see them in his kingdom, and assure them of his 
royal protection till they can write home for fresh commissions, 
and such shall be ready for them at a minute's warning." In 
vain did I urge the entire change of property in France, and the 
necessity the present possessors were under to defend themselves 
at every sacrifice and every risk. Mr. Ellsworth had arrived 
in two or three days after me. I invited him and Governor 
Davie to dine with me alone, that we might converse with entire 
freedom. At table, Mr. Ellsworth expressed an opinion some- 
what similar to that of the heads of departments and the public 
opinion at Trenton. " Is it possible. Chief Justice," said I, "that 
you can seriously believe that the Bourbons are, or will be soon, 
restored to the throne of France ? " " Why," said Mr. Ells- 
worth, smiling, " it looks a good deal so." " I should not be afraid 
to stake my life upon it, that they will not be restored in seven 
years, if they ever are," was my reply. And then I entered into 
a long detail of my reasons for this opinion. They would be 
too tedious to enumerate here, and time has superseded the 
necessity of them. 

The result of the conversation was, that Mr. Davie was 
decidedly for embarking immediately, as he always had been 
from his first arrival, and Mr. Ellsworth declared himself satis- 
fied, and willing to embark as soon as I pleased.^ 

Mr. Hamilton, who had been some time in town, and had 
visited me several times, came at last to remonstrate against 
the mission to France. I received him with great civility, as I 
always had done from my first knowledge of him. I was for- 
tunately in a very happy temper, and very good humor. He 
went over the whole ground of the victories of Suwarrow and 
Prince Charles, and the inflexible determination of the two 
imperial courts, in concert with Great Britain, to restore the 
house of Bourbon to their kingdom. That there was no doubt 
the enterprise was already accomplished, or at least would be, 
before the end of the campaign. That Mr. Pitt was determined 
to restore the Bourbons. That the confidence of the nation in 

1 Mr. Ellsworth seems to have immediately reported this conversation to Mr. 
Pickerinji and Mr. Wolcott. Mr. Pickering gives a tiketch of it in a letter to 
General Washington, of the 24th October, published in Mr. Gibbs's Work, vol. ii. 
p. 280. He says that he " desired Mr. Wolcott to commit the whole recital to 
writing, which he promised to do." No such paper appears in that work. Cer- 
tainly it was a singular occupation for cabinet ministers. 


Mr. Pitt was unbounded. That the nation was never so united 
and determined to support Mr. Pitt and his resolution to restore 
the monarchy of France. His eloquence and vehemence wrought 
the li ttle m an up to a degree of heat and effervescence like that 
which General Knox used to describe of his conduct in the 
battle of Monmouth, and which General Lee used to call his 
paroxysms of bravery, but which he said would never be of any 
service to his country. I answered him in general, as I had 
answered the heads of departments and Judge Ellsworth, but 
to no purpose. He repeated over and over again the unalterable 
resolution of Mr. Pitt and the two imperial courts, the invincible 
heroism of Suwarrow and Prince Charles, and the unbounded 
confidence of the British empire in Mr. Pitt, with such agitation 
and violent action that I really pitied him, instead of being dis- 
pleased. I only added, that I differed with him in opinion on 
every point; and that instead of restoring the Bourbons, it would 
not be long before England would make peace. I treated him 
throughout with great mildness and civility ; but, after he took 
leave, I could not help reflecting in my own mind on the total 
ignorance he had betrayed of every thing in Europe, in France, 
England, and elsewhere. Instead of that unbounded confidence 
in Mr. Pitt, I knew that the nation had been long working up 
almost to a ripeness for rebellion against Mr. Pitt, for continuing 
the war. Accordingly, it was not long before Mr. Pitt was 
obliged to resign , peace at Amiens was made, and Napoleon 
acknowledged. Mr. Hamilton, in his most famous pamphlet, 
has hinted at this conversation, and squinted at my simplicity 
for expecting peace. 

Under the whole, I directed the instructions to be prepared, 
the heads of departments were assembled, and the instructions 
deliberately considered, paragraph by paragraph, and unani- 
mously approved by me and by them. Indeed, there had never 
been any difference of opinion among us on any article of the 

1 Mr. Gibbs, in his work, afBrms that the dinner, and the conversation with 
]\Ir. Hamilton, took place after the prepai-ation of the instructions, and after the 
order to embark was given. Perhaps it may be as well to compare with this 
account the fuller one given in 1801. 

"At Trenton, the form of instructions was adjusted with Mr. Adams's ministers, 
and, had he wavered and been in doubt about the expediency of sending on his 
ministers, he would probably have asked advice ; but he was not in doubt. On his 


The instructions were presented to the envoys, and they were 
requested to embark in the United States frigate as soon as 
possible. For some cause or other in the state of the ship, they 
landed in Spain, and went by land from Corunna to Paris, on 
the same route which Mr. Dana and I had travelled twenty 
years before, that is, in 1780. Before their arrival, a revolution 
had occurred, and the consular government succeeded the Di- 

Had Mr. Murray's nomination been approved, he would pro- 
bably have finished the business long before, and obtained com- 
pensation for all spoliations. 

In my next letter you will have the evidence of the com- 
pliance of the French government with the conditions and 
requisitions in my message to the Senate, nominating Mr. 
Murray and others, ministers and envoys to France. 

journey he had called on Mr. Ellsworth at his seat in Windsor, and had a long 
conversation with him upon the subject, and heard, as he believed, all the reasons 
for the suspending the sailing of the envoys for a few weeks. To do justice, 
however, to Mr. Ellsworth, he did not appear decided In his opinion against 
proceeding. When at Trenton, Mr. Adams had opportunities of knowing from 
one and another of his ministers all the reasons they ever suggested against the 
mission proceeding. He thought them Insufficient. He conversed with Mr. 
Davie, who had been and continued steady in the opinion that they ought to 
proceed, and declared that, in his opinion, the nation, and that part of It, espe- 
cially, with which he was best acquainted, expected they Avould proceed, and would 
be greatly disappointed If they did not. The change in the Directory appeared 
to the President to be a mere quibble, too much like an attorney's plea in 
abatement, when gravely alleged as a reason for suspending the mission. The 
expected annihilation of the republic, and restoration of the royal family, appeared 
extravagant, visionary, and in the highest degree Improbable ; but. if It had been 
certain, it was no reason for suspending the mission, for the mission was to 
France, not to individuals or forms of government. The reasons he urged in 
conversation with some, if not all his ministers, and with Messrs. Ellsworth and 
Davie, in support of his opinion that the republic would last several years, at 
least, and that the restoration of the royal family could not be soon effected, 
would take up too much time to detail. It appeared to him, that his ministers, 
three of them at least, had not sufficiently considered the state of Europe, the 
instability of coalitions among jealous rival powers, and, above all, the nature of 
twenty-five millions of people In a mass, whose deepest passions were thoroughly 
aroused and become wholly desperr^te. Nothing shall be said of the temper in 
which three of his ministers were, nor of the conduct of one or two of them, at 
least, from the first nomination of Mr. Murray, in endeavoring by conversations 
and letters to make the measure unpopular, and to Injure the character of the 
President. There are persons who might say more. No step was ever more 
deliberately taken, after a full and dispassionate consideration of the whole sub- 
ject, than the request to the envoys to sail by the 1st of November." 



On the 6th of March, a letter was written by the Secretary of 
State by my order, in the following words, to Mr. Murray : 

No. 22. rhiladelpbia , C March, 1799. 

Sir, — "I inclose a commission constituting you, in conjunc- 
tion with the Chief Justice Ellsworth and Patrick Henry, Esq., 
of Virginia, envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary 
to the French republic. By the President's direction, I inclose 
for your information copies of his messages to the Senate, of 
the 18th and 2oth of March" (it should have been the 18th and 
25th of February), "by the latter of which you will see the mo- 
tives inducing the nomination of a commission for the purpose 
of negotiating with France, instead of resting the business 
wholly with you. This will, doubtless, be agreeable, by reliev- 
ing you from the weight of a sole responsibility in an affair of 
such magnitude. 

It is the President's desire, that you, by letter to the French 
minister of foreign relations, inform him, " that Oliver Ellsworth, 
Chief Justice of the United States, Patrick Henry, late Governor 
of Virginia, and yourself, are appointed envoys extraordinary 
and ministers plenipotentiary of the United States to the French 
republic, with full powers to discuss and settle by a treaty all 
controversies between the United States and France." But, 
" that the two former will not embark for Europe until they 
shall have received from the Executive Dnectory direct and un- 
equivocal assurances, signified by their secretary of foreign 
relations, that the envoys shall be received in character, to an 
audience of the Directory, and that they shall enjoy all the pre- 
rogatives attached to that character by the law of nations, and 
that a minister or ministers of equal powers shall be appointed 
and commissioned to treat with them." 

The answer you shall receive to your letter, you will be 
pleased to transmit to this office. 

You will also be pleased to understand it to be the President's 
opinion, that no more indirect and inofficial communications, 
written or verbal, should be held with any persons whatever, 
agents on behalf of France, on the subjects of difference between 
the United States and the French republic. If the French 

22* Q 


government really desire a settlement of the existing differences, 
it must take the course pointed out, unless the Executive Di- 
rectory should prefer sending a minister plenipotentiary to the 
United States. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir, your obedient 


Timothy Pickering. 

Mr. Murray obeyed these instructions by a letter in these 
words : — 


The Hague, 5 May, 1799. 
Citizen Minister, 
It is with the greatest pleasure that I hasten to fulfil the 
instructions, which I have just had the honor to receive from the 
government of the United States of America, by informing you 
that the President has appointed Oliver Ellsworth, Chief .Justice 
of the United States, Patrick Henry, late Governor of Virginia, 
and William Vans Murray, minister resident of the United 
States at the Hague, to be envoys extraordinary and ministers 
plenipotentiary of the United States to the French republic, 
with full powers to discuss and settle by a treaty all controver- 
sies between the United States and France; but that the two 
former, Mr. Ellsworth and Mr. Henry, will not embark for 
Europe until they shall have received from the Executive Di- 
rectory direct and unequivocal assurances, signified by their 
minister of foreign relations, that the envoys shall be received 
in character to an audience of the Directory, and that they shall 
enjoy all the prerogatives attached to that character by the law 
of nations, and that a minister or ministers of equal powers 
shall be appointed and commissioned to treat with them. 

I request you. Citizen Minister, to lay this subject before 
your government, and as the distance is so great and the ob- 
stacles so numerous in an Atlantic voyage, that you will favor 
me, as speedily as possible, with the answer which is to lead to 
such happy and important consequences. 

Accept, Citizen Minister, the assurances of my perfect high 


W. V. Murray. 


When Mr. Murray received the answer of the French minis- 
ter, he inclosed it, with the following letter from himself, to the 
Secretary of State : — 
No. 75. The Hague, 7 May, 1799. 

Dear Sir, 

On the 4th instant, late in the evening, I had the honor to 
receive your No. 22, containing the commission of envoys. 

On the 5th, I addressed, precisely agreeably to your instruc- 
tions, as I conceived, the inclosed letter to Mr. Talleyrand, the 
minister of exterior relations. You will perceive. Sir, that I did 
not think myself at liberty to go, not only not out of the com- 
mas, but beyond them. In one word alone I deviated, in the 
word minister, instead of Secretary of foreign relations. No 
direct nor indirect and inofficial communications, written or 
verbal, will be held by me with the French agents on American 

I accept the appointment which it has pleased the President 
to clothe me with, under a grateful sense of the high honor 
conferred upon me, so unexpectedly, by this mark of his con- 
fidence. I may be allowed to say, that though I was deeply 
sensible of the honor conferred by the first nomination, and shall 
always, I hope, retain a most grateful recollection of it, yet, 
Sir, the new modification of that nomination gave me great 
pleasure, always conceiving, as I thought I did, that any nego- 
tiation with France would be full of anxieties and political 
perils to the envoys that should be employed by our govern- 
ment. I had no wishes to be engaged in it, and no expectation 
that I should be. To have a share in it, was by me unsought. 
You will excuse this declaration, because I was instrumental 
in certain preliminary steps relative to the advances of France, 
which produced the basis of the appointment. 

I sent the original of the inclosed to Mr. Talleyrand by post ; 
another, a copy, to Major Mountflorence, to be handed to him ; 
a third to a Mr. Griffith for Major M. in case the other failed, 
to be opened by Mr. G., if Major M. should have been out of 
Paris, and directed Mr. G. to follow the instructions which he 
would find in the letter to Major M., which were, to deliver the 
inclosed to Mr. Talleyrand, and take his letter in answer for 
me, and send it to me. 


As soon as I have the answer of the Directory, 1 shall have 
the honor of transmitting copies to you, Sir, by different ways. 

T am, with the greatest respect and sincere esteem, dear Sir, 
faithfully your most obedient servant. 

W. V. Murray. 

THE IVIINISTF:R of exterior relations to W. vans MURRAY. 

( Translation.') 

Paris, 23 Florfeal, (12 May, 1799,) 
7tli year of the French republic, one and indivisible. 

I augur too well. Sir, from the eagerness you display in ful- 
filling the instructions of your government, not to hasten to 
answer the letter I receive from you, dated the 16th of this 

The Executive Directory being informed of the nomination 
of Mr. Oliver Ellsworth, of Mr. Patrick Henry, and of yourself, 
as envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary of the 
United States to the French republic, to discuss and terminate 
all differences which subsist between the two countries, sees 
with pleasure that its perseverance in pacific sentiments has 
kept open the way to an approaching reconciliation. It has a 
long time ago manifested its intentions with respect to this 
subject. Be pleased to transmit to your colleagues and accept 
yourself the frank and explicit assurance that it will receive the 
envoys of the United States in the oflicial character with which 
they are invested, that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives 
which are attached to them by the law of nations, and that one 
or more ministers shall be authorized to treat with them. 

It was certainly unnecessary to suffer so many months to 
elapse for the mere confirmation of what I have already declared 
to Mr. Gerry, and which, after his departure, I caused to be 
declared to you at the Hague. I sincerely regret that your two 
colleagues await this answer at such a distance. As to you. 
Sir, whom it will reach in a few days, and who understand so 
well the value of time, when the restoration of harmony between 
two republics, whom every thing invites to friendship, is in ques- 
tion, be assured that as soon as you can take in hand the object 


of youv mission, I shall have the honor immediately to send you 

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my very sincere consideration. 

Ch. Mau. Talleyrand. 

The foregoing documents were not published till they were 
communicated to Congress, with my message of Dec ember 5th, 
1799. The messages to the Senate, nominating the minister 
and the envoys, were never published till now, as I remember. 
I may be, however, mistaken. These papers were not published 
till the mischief was done that they might have prevented, and 
innumerable prejudices and errors propagated all over the na- 

I have omitted two facts, which ought to have been inserted 
in a former letter : 

1. One is, that one of the heads of departments ^ at Trenton 
was more diffident than the rest. He said he was far from 
being sanguine. He had signed the letter to me, urging a post- 
ponement of the mission, because he did not like to be singular; 
but he wished me to decide the question according to my own 
judgment and sentiments. He also showed me a letter from 
the Attorney-General in Virginia,^ saying that the people ex- 
pected that the envoys should proceed, and would be disap- 
pointed if they did not. 

2. Another fact is, that I transiently asked one of the heads 
of departments, whether Ellsworth and Hamilton came all the 
way from Windsor and Newark to Trenton, to convince me 
that I ought to suspend the mission. 


At first I intended to encumber your paper with no docu- 
ments but such as were absolutely necessary for my own vindi- 
cation. But as the peace with France in 1800, was not only 
an event of great importance in itself, but produced demonstra- 
tions of the prejudices, passions, views, designs, and systems of 
parties, more, perhaps, than any other, I hope you will allow 

1 Mr. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy. 

2 Mr. Lee. The letter was addressed to Mr. Adams himself. See page 38. 


me room for such other papers as may serve to throw light upon 
this subject. At present it may not be very interesting ; but 
the cause of truth and justice may hereafter be promoted by 
having the facts and evidences laid together in a series. The 
future policy of the nation will not be injured by it. 

Besides the communications already published from the sove- 
reign of the French nation, through their minister of foreign rela- 
tions, their diplomatic organ at the Hague, and our minister 
there, another was communicated through the same channels in 
these words : — 


Paris, 11 Fructldor, an 6. (28 August, 1798.) 

( Translation.) 

I see with pleasure, citizen, that the intercourse of society has 
procured you some political conversations with Mr. Murray. I 
entertain an esteem for that minister. Like all the men at 
the head of the affairs of the United States, he has received 
the impressions which the British cabinet has known how to 
give against us. He thinks the measures of his government 
just, and supports them ; but he possesses reason, understand- 
ing, and a true attachment to his country. He is neither 
French nor English ; he is ingenuously an American. I am 
not at all surprised that he has appeared to you to wish sincerely 
for the reconciliation of the two republics. I will, therefore, 
cheerfully answer the questions you put to me on different 
points, which appeared to you not to be well established in his 
mind. I do not see between France and the United States any 
clashing of interest, any cause of jealousy. The Americans 
wish to be fishermen, sailors, manufacturers, and especially 
husbandmen. In all these points of view their success is more 
at the expense of England than us. Why should we be uneasy 
about them? They aspire to the consolidation of their national 
existence, and it is to our purpose that they should succeed. In 
fact, we should have decided upon very superficial views, to 
sustain their independence, if the matter was to separate them 
from England merely to leave them finally insulated among 
themselves, on an extensive sea-coast, weak, rivalling, and im- 
poverished by each other, and torn by foreign intrigues. We 


know that Great Britain would soon have put together, piece 
by piece, those scattered shreds, and we should have done no- 
thing useful for ourselves, if so miserable a chance of it were 
not daily rendered more remote. 

What, therefore, is the cause of the misunderstanding which, 
if France did not manifest herself more wise, would henceforth 
induce a violent rupture between the two republics ? Neither 
incompatible interests nor projects of aggrandizement divide 
them. After all, distrust alone has done the whole. The go- 
vernment of the United States has thought that France wanted 
to revolutionize it. France has thought that the government 
of the United States wanted to throw itself into the arms of 
England. It does not require much skill to divine which is the 
cabinet interested in the two events producing each other, and 
which invisibly puts in motion all the expedients calculated to 
make them take effect. Let us open our eyes on both sides. I 
am disposed to admit that the conduct of the government of the 
United States may be explained by other causes than those 
heretofore presumed. But let it on its part understand that the 
French government, wounded as it may be, is too wise to enter- 
tain the views of disturbance, which the other supposes. It 
concerns a republic, founded on the system of representation, to 
support and not to weaken similar establishments. The stabi- 
lity of this system abroad is a necessary example at home. 
France, in fine, has a double motive as a nation and as a repub- 
lic, not to expose to any hazard the present existence of the 
United States. Therefore it never thought of making war 
against them, nor exciting civil commotions among them ; and 
every contrary supposition is an insult to common sense. 

These fundamental principles being established, it is natural 
to ask by what fatality a good understanding was not long 
since restored. It was because irritation being mingled with 
distrust neither party yielded to real conciliatory inclinations. 
In the United States it was supposed that the French govern- 
ment was temporizing, in order to strike the blow with greater 
certainty, whence resulted a crowd of measures more and more 
aggravating. In France it was supposed that the government 
of the United States wished only the appearances of a negotia- 
tion, whence resulted a certain demand for pledges of good faith. 

Let us substitute calmness for passion, confidence for suspi- 


cions, and we shall soon agree. I used my endeavors to enter 
upon a negotiation in this spirit with Mr. Gerry. My corres- 
pondence with him until the day of his departure is a curious 
monument of advances on my part, and of evasions on hi^. It 
is wrong to think that I confined myself to vague protestations. 
Among that series of official letters, which will doubtless be 
published at Philadelphia, I select one of the 30th Prairial, 
wherein you will see that I make very positive propositions, 
without any mixture of preliminary conditions. This letter 
was followed by three notes upon the articles to be discussed, 
and I intended to complete the others in this manner, if Mr. 
Gerry had not refused to answer thereto. 

When it became necessary to abandon the idea of treating 
with that envoy, who thought it important only to know how a 
negotiation might thereafter be resumed, I gave him the most 
solemn assurances concerning the reception that a new^ pleni- 
potentiary would receive. It was far from my thoughts to 
insinuate that the President should send one from the United 
States, instead of investing with his powers some one who was 
in Europe ; far less that the envoy should land directly in France, 
instead of announcing it in a neighboring country. I wished 
merely to say, that the Executive Directory was so decided 
for a reconciliation, that all tampering would be superfluous; 
that an act of confidence in it would excite its own. 1 should 
be very badly understood, if there should be found in my ex- 
pressions a restriction on the nature of the choice which the 
President might make. I wished to encourage Mr. Gerry, by 
testimonies of regard that his good intentions merited. Al- 
though I could not dissemble that he wanted decision at a 
moment when he might have easily adjusted every thing, it does 
not thence follow that I designated him. I will even avow 
that I think him too irresolute to be fit to hasten the conclusion 
of an affair of this kind. The advantages that I prized in him 
are common to all Americans, who have not manifested a pre- 
dilection for England. Can it be believed that a man who 
should profess a hatred or contempt of the French republic, or 
should manifest himself the advocate of royalty, can inspire the 
Directory with a favorable opinion of the dispositions of the 
government of the United States ? I should have disguised the 
truth, if I had left this matter ambiguous. It is not Avounding 


the independence of that government, to point out to a sincere 
friend of peace the shoals he ought to avoid. 

As to the mediation of the Batavian republic and of Spain, 
I do not know that there is any serious question about it, and 
it appears to me absolutely useless. The United States might 
hesitate, in the present state of things, to refer themselves to 
their impartiality; and, besides, I see no subject which may not 
be arranged directly. 

I know that the distance which separates France and the 
United States opens a vast field for incidents, and there have 
been but too many of them. But the Executive Directory is 
unshaken in the conduct which may best obviate them. The 
excess even of provocations has deadened their effect. The 
government of the United States surrounds itself with precau- 
tions against an imaginary attack. To stretch the hand to 
deluded friends, is what one republic owes to another, and I 
cannot doubt that the dignity of that attitude will convince the 
President of our pacific dispositions. 

The two governments ought above all to be attentive to indi- 
rect attempts to alienate them still more. Their prudence will 
secure this object, and I shall cite but one example of it. You 
have told Mr. Murray the truth respecting Dr. Logan. But I 
perceive that on all hands it is attempted to produce a belief in 
America that we are negotiating with him. On the 7th of this 
month a very insidious paragraph was inserted in the " Biert 
Informer It is therein intimated, that, guided by the citizen 
Thomas Paine, Dr. Logan has made application to the Execu- 
tive Directory in the character of secret agent. The Doctor has 
complained of it bitterly to me. He has no need of justifying 
himself concerning a matter, the falsity of which I know better 
than anybody ; but he assured me that having once met Tho- 
mas Pa ine, at the house of a third person, he found him so 
^ejudiced againsj; the United States, and so opinionative with 
respect to an influence he neither possesses among them nor us, 
that he abstained from conversing any more with him. More- 
over, to cut short all misunderstanding, I engaged Dr. Logan 
to postpone till another time the experiments he proposes to 
make on agriculture, and to return home. As to Mr. Hichborn, 
of Massachusetts, I was even ignorant till now that he was in 
Europe. A single word will suffice for the rest. 

VOL. IX. 23 


We want nothing but justice on the part of the United States. 
We ask it, we offer it to their government. It may depend 
upon the candor of the Executive Directory. 

You will not doubt, citizen, that I approve of the communi- 
cation which your zeal has caused you to seek with Mr. Murray, 
since I enable you to resume it with official elucidations, &c., 
&c., &c. 

Ch. Mau. Talleyrand. 

This and all the other communications from the French 
minister, heretofore published in my letter to you, were pro- 
duced by my message to Congress of the 21st of June, 1798, 
which was in these words : ^ 


Mr. Hamilton, in his famous pamphlet, says, "the conduct 
pursued bore sufficiently the marks of courage and elevation 
to raise the national character to an exalted height throughout 

" Much is it to be deplored that we should have been preci- 
pitated from this proud eminence without necessity, without 

It is the habitual practice of our parties to affirm or deny, as 
they find it to their purpose, the honor or the disgrace that is 
produced in Europe by our measures. But neither party know 
any thing about the matter. The truth is, that our affairs are 
much less spoken or thought of in Europe than we imagine. 
In all parts of Europe, but especially in France and England, 
they are constantly misrepresented and misunderstood ; most 
of all in England. I will venture to say, that Mr. Hamilton 
wrote entirely at random, and without a glimmering of genuine 
information, when he mentioned both the exaltation and preci- 
pitation of our national character. To ap{>eal to the courtiers 
or cabinet, or to the diplomatic corps in Europe, would be idle, 
because none of them will ever read Hamilton's pamphlet or 

' See page 159 for this message, ending with the following words : 
" I ivill never send another minister to France toithout assurances that he loill 
he received, respected, aiid honored as the representative of a great, free, power- 
ful, and independent nation." 


these papers; but I would not hesitate to submit the whole 
subject to any of them. I shall take another course. Chief 
Justice Ellsworth is no more. I can no longer appeal to him. 
If 1 could, 1 would say no more than the truth, but it would be 
more than I shall now say ; and I aver that his representation 
to me was the direct reverse of Hamilton's dogmatical asser- 
tions. Governor Davie still lives, and to him I appeal with 
confidence. He declared to me that, to judge of the conduct 
of the American government, both in their naval and other 
preparations for war, and in their political and diplomatic nego- 
tiations upon that occasion, a man must go to Europe, where it 
was considered as the greatest demonstration of genius, firm- 
ness, and wisdom. If I represent the governor's expressions in 
stronger terms than those he used, I request him to correct 

In England, I know the Anti-Jacobin journal abused us, and 
so did ]\Iacdonald, Cobbett, Smith, and every Briton in Europe 
and America, who wished us at war with France and in alliance 
with England. But even in England all the sober part of the 
nation applauded us, and that to such a degree, that it soon 
became a popular cry, " We must imitate the United States of 
America, change our ministers, and make peace." Accordingly, 
they did soon change their ministers, and make peace at Amiens. 

Mr. Liston, whose character I respect, had run through a long 
course of diplomatic experience in various courts and countries 
in Europe, from a secretary of legation and charge, des affaires 
to the grade of minister plenipotentiary, and thence to that of 
ambassador at Constantinople, was probably a better judge 
than Mr. Hamilton, who had no experience at all in any diplo- 
matic station, and who, I dare to say, had read very little on 
the subject of diplomatic functions, and still less of the history 
of embassies, or of the printed despatches of ambassadors. Mr. 
Liston, if anybody, knew what would procure honor to a nation 
or government, and what disgrace, what was triumph, and what 

Now I affirm, that the first time Mr. Liston saw me, after he 
had been informed of the communications of the French Di- 
rectory through Talleyrand, Mr. Pichon, and Mr. Murray, he 
said to me these words : " To ivhat hu7niliations ivill not these 
Frenchmen stoop to appease you? I am very sorry for it; I own, 


I did hope they ivoidd have g-one to ivar until you^ I smiled, 
but made no answer. I wanted no proof of the sincerity of this 
declaration. I doubted not the sincerity of his wish more than 
I did that of Mr. Canning and his associates in the Anti-Jacobin, 
who, upon receiving the news of Mr. Murray's nomination, 
proclaimed that jacobinism was triumphant and carrying all 
before it in America. They could not, or would not, distinguish 
between jacobinism and neutrality. Every thing with them 
was jacobinism, except a war with France and an alliance with 
Great Britain. They all panted for a war between the United 
States and France as sincerely, though not so ardently, as 
Alexander Hamilton. 

There were not wanting insinuations and instigations to me 
to confer with Mr. Liston on the subject of an alliance with 
Great Britain. And Mr. Liston himself repeatedly suggested 
to me, in very modest and delicate terms, however, his readi- 
ness to enter into any explanations on that head. I always 
waved it with as easy a politeness as I could. But my system 
was determined, and had been so for more than twenty years; 
that is, to enter into no alliance with any power in Europe. In 
case of war with England, I would not enter into any alliance 
with France. In case of war with France, I would not form any 
alliance with England. We want no alliance ; we are equal to 
all our own necessary wars. 

" Non tali auxilio, nee defensorihus istis, 
Tempus eget." 

We might aid and be aided by a power at war with our ene- 
my, and might concert operations from time to time; but I would 
make no engagement that should tie up our hands from making 
peace whenever we pleased. Had the war with France con- 
tinued, I might have been drawn by the force of public opinion, 
or the influence of the legislature, into an alliance with England ; 
but it would have been against my own judgment and inclina- 

Let me conclude this letter with an anecdote. Dr. Franklin 
told me, that before his return to America from England, in 
1775, he was in company, I believe at Lord Spencer's, with a 
number of English noblemen, when the conversation turned 
upon fables, those of ^sop. La Fontaine, Gay, Moore, &c., &c. 
Some one of the company observed that he thought the subject 


was exhausted. He did not believe that any man could now 
find an animal, beast, bird, or fish, that he could work into a 
new fable with any success ; and the whole company appeared 
to applaud the idea, except Franklin, who was silent. The 
gentleman insisted on his opinion. He said, with submission 
to their lordships, he believed the subject was inexhaustible, 
and that many new and instructive fables might be made out 
of such materials. Can you think of any one at present? K 
your lordship will furnish me a pen, ink, and paper, I believe I 
can furnish your lordship with one in a few minutes. The 
paper was brought, and he sat down and wrote : — 

" Once upon a time, an eagle scaling round a farmer's barn, 
and espying a hare, darted down upon him like a sunbeam, 
seized him in his claws, and remounted with him in the air. 
He soon found that he had a creature of more courage and 
strength than a hare, for which, notwithstanding the keenness 
of his eyesight, he had mistaken a cat. The snarling and 
scrambling of the prey was very inconvenient, and, what was 
worse, she had disengaged herself from his talons, grasped his 
body with her four limbs, so as to stop his breath, and seized 
fast hold of his throat with her teeth. Pray, said the eagle, 
let go your hold, and I will release you. Very fine, said the cat, 
I have no fancy to fall from this height and be crushed to death. 
You have taken me up, and you shall stoop and let me down. 
The eagle thought it necessary to stoop accordingly." 

The moral was so applicable to England and America, that 
the fable was allowed to be original, and highly applauded. 

Let Hamilton say what he will, the French Directory found 
it convenient to stoop and set us down on our honest ground 
of neutrality and impartiality, as the English eagle did formerly, 
and now does a second time. 


Another of my crimes, according to my great accuser, was 
nominating Mr. Murray without previous consultation with any 
of my ministers. To this charge I shall say but little at pre- 

Tn England, the first magistrate is responsible for nothing, 


his ministers for every thing. Here, according to the practice, 
if not the Constitution, the ministers are responsible for nothing, 
the President for every thing. He is made to answer before the 
people, not only for every thing done by his ministers, but even 
for all the acts of the legislature. Witn ess the alien and sedi-^_ 
tion laws. In all great and essential measures he is bound by 
"his honor and his conscience, by his oath to the Constitution, 
as well as his responsibility to the public opinion of the nation, 
to act his own mature and unbiased judgment, though unfor- 
tunately, it may be in direct contradiction to the advice of all his 
ministers. This was my situation in more than one instance. 
It had been so in the nomination of Mr. Gerry ; it was afterwards 
so in the pardon of Fries ; two measures that I recollect with 
infinite satisfaction, and which will console me in my last hour. 

In the case now in question I perfectly knew the sentiments 
of all my ministers. I knew every argument they could allege, 
and moreover, I knew the se cret motives that governed them 
better than they did themselves. I knew them then and I know 
them now, believe it or disbelieve it who will, at the present 
time ; hereafter, the world will be convinced of it. 

I knew that if I called the heads of departments together and 
asked their advice, three of them would very laconically protest 
against the measure. The other two would be loath to dissent 
from their brethren, and would more modestly and mildly con- 
cur with them. The consequence would be, that the whole 
would be instantaneously communicated to A, B, C, D, E, F, 
&c., in the Senate, and G, H, I, &c., in the House of Represent- 
atives ; the public and the presses would have it at once, and a 
clamor raised and a prejudice propagated against the measure, 
that would probably excite the Senate to put their negative on 
the whole plan. If I had called the heads of department to- 
gether, and asked their advice, I knew from past experience i 

1 Compare with tliis the letter to the Secretary of State, of 20th October, 
1798, vol. viii. p. 612, which seems never to have been answered. Also the 
directions to the same officer, 15th January, 1799, to prepare a plan of a treaty, 
vol. viii. p. 621, of which no notice whatever was taken. Likewise the draught 
of a passage to be put into the message of December, 1798, which was not 
adopted, p. 131, of this volume. 

In a private letter to Mr. Adams, Mr. Stoddert protested against benig in- 
cluded within the scope of this charge. He says : 

" You had reason to believe that I did not hold, and never had held myself 
at liberty to oppose a measure of yours, and retain my office ; and I strongly 


that their answers would have been flat negatives. If I had 
asked their reasons, they would be such arguments as Hamilton 
has recorded; for he^it seerns, was their recording sccrotary. 

1. The etiquette which required, according to them, that 
France should send a minister to us. 

2. That a negotiation with France would give offence to 
Great Britain and to Russia, and probably involve us in a war 
with these powers. 

I had twenty times answered these arguments by saying, that 
there was no such etiquette. It was true that in ancient and 
more barbarous times, when nations had been inflamed by long 
wars, and the people wrought up to a degree of fury on both 
sides, so as to excite apprehensions that ambassadors would be 
insulted or massacred by the populace, or even imprisoned, as 
in Turkey, sovereigns had insisted that ambassadors should be 
exchanged, and that one should be held as a hostage for the 
other. It had even been insisted that a French ambassador 
should embark at Calais at the same hour that an English 
ambassador embarked at Dover. But these times were passed. 
Nations sent ambassadors now as they pleased. Franklin and 
his associates had been sent to France ; Mr. Jay had been sent 
to Spain ; I had been sent to Holland ; Mr. Izard had been 
commissioned to Tuscany ; Mr. W. Lee to Vienna and Berlin, 
without any stipulation for sending ministers in return. We 
had a minister in London three years, "without any minister 
from England in return. We have had a minister at Berlin, 
without any from Prussia. 

As to the offence that would be taken by Great Britain, I 
asked, shall we propose any thing to France, or agree to any 
thing inconsistent with our treaties and pledged faith with 
England ? Certainly not. What right has England, then, to 
be offended ? Have we not as clear a right to make peace as 
she has ? We are at war with France, at least in part. If 
Britain should make peace with France, what right have we 

advised you, since the nomination of Mr. Murray was made, to adhere to it, 
expressing my conviction that the Senate would acquiesce. You were then 
determined to adhere ; but afterwards, and perhaps more wisely, though I think 
at the expense of some personal dignity, made a modification of your mes- 

Mr. Adams, though well disposed to correct other things pointed out in the 
same letter, declined to modify this passage. 


to complain, provided she stipulates nothing inconsistent with 
her treaty with us ? 

As to Russia, what has she to do with us, or we with her? 
I had confidence enough in the assurances given, firmly to be- 
lieve that our envoys would be received and respected. Candi- 
dates enough were ready to run the risk, and Hamilton himself 
would have been very proud to have been one of them, if he 
had not been Commander-in-chief of the army. 

I will acknowledge, that when the terror of the power and 
anger of Great Britain have been held up to me in a manner 
that appears to me to be base and servile, I sometimes was 
provoked to say, that in a just cause, when the essential cha- 
racter and interests of the United States should be wronged by 
Great Britain, I should hold her power in total contempt. It may 
be said, for it has been said, that this was imprudent, and that 
[ was fretted. Let it be said by whom it will, I now repeat 
the same sentiment after the coolest reflection of ten years. 

On the other hand, by making the nomination on my own 
authority, I believed that the heads of departments would have 
some discretion ; and although I knew that the British faction 
would excite a clamor, and that some of the senators, represent- 
atives, and heads of departments would make no exertions to 
discountenance it, if they did not secretly or openly encourage 
it, yet I was so perfectly convinced of the national sense, and 
that the Senate felt it so strongly, that they would not dare to 
negative it, even if the majority had disliked it, which I very 
well knew they did not. I thought a clamor after the fact 
would be much less dangerous than a clamor before it. And 
so it proved in experience. A clamor there was, as I always 
knew there would be, and Alexander Hamilton had a principal 
underhand in exciting it. 

It is well known that there are continued interviews between 
the members of the Senate and the members of the House, and 
the heads of departments. Eternal solicitations for nominations 
to office are made in this manner. There is not an executive 
measure, that members of Congress are not almost constantly 
employed in pumping from the heads of departments. There 
is not a legislative measure, that the heads of departments do 
not intermeddle in. It really deserves consideration, whether it 
would not be better that heads of de p artments sho uld be mem- 


bers of t he legislature. There they would be confronted in all 
things. Now, all is secrecy and darkness. Washington, I 
know, was nearly as much vexed and tortured by these things 
as I was, and resigned his office to get rid of them. And so 
would I have done with great joy, if I could have been sure of 
a successor whose sentiments were as conformable to mine, as 
he knew mine were to his. 


Mr. Hamilton, in his pamphlet, speaking of Talleyrand's des- 
patches, says, " overtures so circuitous and informal, through a 
person who was not the regular organ of the French govern- 
ment for making them, to a person who was not the regular 
organ of the American government for receiving them, &c., were 
a very inadequate basis for the institution of a new mission." 

Here, again, Mr. Hamilton's total ignorance or oblivion of the 
practice of our own government, as well as the constant usage 
of other nations in diplomatic proceedings, appears in all its 
lustre. In 1784, the Congress of the United States, the then 
sovereign of our country, issued fifteen commissions, as I re- 
member. If I mistake the number, Colonel Humphreys can 
correct me, for he was the secretary of legation to them all, and 
possesses, as I suppose, the original parchments, to John Adams, 
Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, to form commercial 
treaties with all the commercial powers of Europe and the Bar- 
bary States. Our instructions were to communicate these 
credentials to the ambassadors of these powers at Versailles, 
not to go to those courts. And we did communicate them in 
this informal and circuitous manner, and received very civil 
answers. We were not told, " If Congress wishes any connec- 
tions with us, commercial or political, let them send ambassa- 
dors directly to our courts. It is inconsistent with our dignity 
to receive or pay any attention to such indirect, circuitous, and 
informal overtures." 

These indirect and circuitous communications, as Hamilton 
calls them, are of established usage and daily practice all over 
the world. Instances of them without number might be quoted ; 
I shall only recite two or three. 



The Baron de Thulemeier, ambassador from Frederick the 
Great, King of Prussia, whose name and character Mr. Hamilton 
affects to admire, wrote me a letter when I was minister pleni- 
potentiary in Holland, informing me that he had received the 
commands of the king, his master, to make me a visit, and 
communicate somethins: to me as minister from the United 
States of America, and desired to know at what hour I would 
receive him.^ I wrote him in answer, that I would have the 
honor of receiving him at twelve o'clock of the next day, or, if 
he wished an earlier interview, I would call on him at his hotel, 
at any hour he should be pleased to indicate. To this I received 
no answer, but at the hour I had mentioned his Excellency 
appeared at my house in the habiliments, and with the equipage 
of his ministerial character. He said that the king, his master, 
had ordered him to visit me and ask my opinion of a connection 
and treaty between Prussia and the United States of America. 
What a figure should I have made, if I had said, " This is all 
circuitous and informal ; your master, if he wishes a con- 
nection, commercial or political, with America, must send an 
ambassador to Philadelphia, and propose it to Congress" ! Yet 
Mr. Hamilton's doctrine and reasoning would have required this. 
The king, however, would have expected more sense of pro- 
priety, more knowledge of the intercourse of nations, and a more 
rational answer, from a deputy of one of our savage tribes, or 
one of the migratory hordes of Africa or Tartary. My ansv^er 
was, " Be pleased. Sir, to present my most profound respects to 
his Majesty, and inform him, that though I have no commission 
or instructions to enter into official conferences upon the subject, 
I am very sensible of the high honor done me by this communi- 
cation, and have no hesitation in expressing my private opinion, 
that such a connection between the United States and his Ma- 
jesty's dominions would be highly honorable and advantageous, 
and I have no doubt Congress would be unanimous in the same 
sentiments." That without loss of time I would transmit to 
them an account of this conversation, and had no doubt they 
would authorize a minister to treat with his Majesty's minister. 
The Baron then said, he was farther directed to ask my opinion 
of a proper basis of a treaty. I answered, our treaty lately con- 
cluded with Holland would, in my opinion, be such a basis. 

1 See vohmie viii. p. 189. 


Congress, when they received this information from me, did 
not say, " This is all informal and indirect, from obscure and 
unauthorized agents. The King of Prussia must send us an 
ambassador." Yet I sent them no official act of the king; no 
official letter under hand and seal from his prime minister, as 
Mr. Mun-ay did to me. All was mere parol evidence, mere verbal 
conversation. Yet Congress immediately sent a commission 
to Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, to treat with the king's 
minister. The king sent a commission to his minister; and 
a treaty was negotiated, concluded, and ratified, which now 
remains among the archives and printed documents of our 
country, not at all to her disgrace. 

The king had previously ordered his ambassador to express 
to me his entire satisfaction with the interview between his 
ambassador and me ; that he had maturely examined our treaty 
with Holland, and approved it as a basis of negotiation with 

Another instance. Mr. Weems, a young gentleman of liberal 
education, from Virginia or Maryland, went to England in 
hopes of obtaining holy orders in the church. He wrote a letter 
to me, as American minister in Holland, though he had never 
seen me, and indeed has never seen me since, bitterly complain- 
ing not only of the stern refusal, but even of the rough treatment 
he had received from the English bishops, and even from the 
great Hurd.^ He desired to know, if he could receive ordination 
from the bishops in Holland. There were no bishops in Hol- 
land ; but there were Protestant bishops in Denmark. At the 
first meeting of the ambassadors, I asked M. de Saint Saphorin, 
the ambassador from Denmark, whether an American candidate 
for the ministry could receive from the bishops in his country 
Episcopal ordination ; and whether any oaths, subscriptions, or 
professions of faith would be required ; and whether the arti- 
cles of the Church of England were sufficiently conformable to 
the faith of Denmark. ^'- Man Dieul Je rCen sais rien^' — "My 
God ! " said Saint Saphorin, " I know nothing of the matter ; 
but if you desire it, I will soon inform myself." I thanked him, 
and should be much obliged to him. In a shorter time than I 
could imagine, he came to inform me that he had written our 
conversation to the prime minister of his court, who had laid it 

1 See his letter, vol. viii. p. 184. 


before the king, who had taken it into consideration in his 
council, and had ordered it to be laid before the convocation, 
who had unanimously determined that any American candidate 
of proper qualifications and good moral character should at any 
time receive ordination from any bishop in Denmark, without 
taking any oath or professing any other faith, but merely sub- 
scribing the articles of the Church of England. He even went 
so far as to say that the king, if we desired it, would appoint a 
bishop in one of his islands in the West Indies, to accommodate 
American candidates. I wrote this to Mr. Weems, and it soon 
procured him a more polite reception from the English clergy. 
Indeed, it laid the first foundation not only of Mr. Weems's 
ordination, but of the whole system of Episcopacy in the 
United States. 

I also wrote a history of it to Congress, who, instead of 
reprimanding me, ordered me to transmit their thanks to the 
King of Denmark, which I did afterwards, through another 
indirect and informal channel, that of his ambassador at the 
court of London. 

It seems that neither St. Saphorin, nor his prime minister, 
nor the king, their master, nor his council, nor the whole con- 
vocation of bishops, nor our American Congress, were such 
profound adepts in the law of nations and the diplomatic inter- 
course of sovereigns, as Mr. Hamilton. None of them discovered 
that it was inconsistent with their dignity to take notice of any 
thing less formal and direct than immediate communications 
from a resident ambassador. 

Let me add another example. At the instigation of the 
Count de Vergennes, the Swedish ambassador at Versailles 
had written to his court to know whether it would be agreeable 
to them to form a treaty with the United States. Receiving an 
answer in the affirmative, he suggested this to Dr. Franklin, 
who, upon this simple verbal insinuation, wrote an account of 
it to Congress, who immediately sent him a commission. The 
King of Sweden sent a commission to his ambassador at Ver- 
sailles. The treaty was concluded at Paris, and afterwards 
ratified by both powers. Yet no ambassador from Sweden to 
the United States has ever appeared, and no minister from the 
United States has ever gone to Sweden, to this day. 



In the pamphlet it is said, that "the great alteration in public 
opinion had put it completely in the power of our executive to 
control the machinations of any future public agent of France." 
Therefore Philadelphia was a safer scene of negotiation than 

Mr. Hamilton's erroneous conceptions of the public opinion 
may be excused by the considerations that he was not a native 
of the United States ; that he was born and bred in the West 
Indies till he went to Scotland for education, where he spent 
his time in a seminary of learning till seventeen years of age, 
after which no man ever_perfectly acquired a national character; 
then entered a college at New York, from whence he issued 
into the army as an aid-de-camp. In these situations he could 
scarcely acquire the opinions, feelings, or principles of the Ame- 
rican people. His error may be excused by the further con- 
sideration, that his time was chiefly spent in his pleasures, in 
his electioneering visits, conferences, and correspondences, in 
propagating prejudices against every man whom he thought his 
superior in the public estimation, and in composing ambitious 
re ports u pon finance, while the real business of the treasury 
was done by Duer, by Wolcott, and even, for some time and in 
part, by Tench Coxe. 

His observation, that " France will never be without secret 
agents," is true, and it is equally true that England wall always 
have secret agents and emissaries too. That her " partisans 
among our own citizens can much better promote her cause than 
any agents she can send," is also true ; but it is at least equally 
true of the partisans of Great Britain. We have seen, in the 
foregoing papers, glaring and atrocious instances of the exertions 
of her public agents, secret emissaries, and partisans, among our 
citizens. But none have yet been mentioned that bear any 
comparison, in point of guilt and arrogance, with those of all 
kinds that have been exhibited within the last two or three 

My worthy fellow-citizens ! Our form of government, inesti- 
mable as it is, exposes us, more than any other, to the insidious 
intrigues and pestilent influence of foreign nations. Nothing 
but our inflexible neutrality can preserve us. The public nego- 

VOL. IX. 2-i 


tiations and secret intrigues of the English and the French have 
been employed for centuries in every court and country of 
Europe. Look back to the history of Spain, Holland, Germany, 
Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, Italy, and Turkey, for the 
last hundred years. How many revolutions have been caused ! 
How many emperors and kings have fallen victims to the alter- 
nate triumphs of parties, excited by Englishmen or Frenchmen! 
And can we expect to escape the vigilant attention of politi- 
cians so experienced, so keen-sighted, and so rich? If we 
convince them that our attachment to neutrality is unchange- 
able, they will let us alone ; but as long as a hope remains, in 
either power, of seducing us to engage in war on his side and 
against his enemy, we shall be torn and convulsed by their 

Never was there a grosser mistake of public opinion than 
that of Mr. Hamilton. The great alteration in public opinion 
had not then, nor has it yet, taken place. The French republic 
still existed. The French people were still considered as strug- 
gling for liberty, amidst all their internal revolutions, their con- 
flicts of parties, and their bloody wars against the coalitions of 
European powers. Monarchy, empire, had not been suggested. 
Bonaparte had appeared only as a soldier; had acted on the 
public stage in no civil or political employment. A sense of 
gratitude for services rendered us in our revolution, by far more 
sincere and ardent than reason or justice could warrant, still 
remained on the minds, not only of our republicans, but of great 
numbers of our soundest federalists. Did Mr. Hamilton recol- 
lect the state of our presses ; recollect the names and popular 
eloquence of the editors of the opposition papers; that scoff- 
ing, scorning wit, and that caustic malignity of soul, which 
appeared so remarkably in all the writings of Thomas Paine 
and Callender, which to the disgrace of human nature never 
fails to command attention and applause ; the members of 
the Senate and House who were decided against the adminis- 
tration, their continual intercourse and communications with 
French emissaries ; the hideous clamor against the alien law 
and sedition law, both considered as levelled entirely against 
the French and their friends ; and the surrender, according to 
the British treaty, of the Irish murderer Nash, imposed upon 
the public for Jonathan Robins ? Did he recollect the insurrec- 


tion in Pennsylvania, the universal and perpetual inflammatory 
publications against the land tax, stamp tax, coach tax, excise 
law, and eight per cent, loan ? Did he never see nor hear of the 
circular letters of members of- Congress from the middle and 
southern States ? Did he know nothing of the biting sarcasms, 
the burning rage against himself and his own army ? Did he 
know nothing of a kind of journal that was published, of every 
irregular act of any officer or soldier, of every military punish- 
ment that was inflicted, under the appellation of the Cannibal's 
Progress ? Di d he see nothi ng of the French cockades, osten- 
tatiously exhibited against the American cockades ?_ 

Had a French minister been seen here with his suite, he would 
have been instantly informed of every source and symptom of 
discontent. Almost every Frenchman upon the continent, and 
they were then numerous in all the States, would have been 
employed in criminating the American Government, in applaud- 
ing the condescension of the French Directory, and the friendly, 
conciliating disposition of the French nation. Nothing could 
have been kept secret. The popular clamor for peace on any 
terms would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to resist. 
The multitude in Philadelphia, as it was, were almost as ripe 
to pull me out of my house as they had been to dethrone 
Washington in the time of Genet. Even the night of the fast- 
day, the streets were crowded with multitudinous assemblies 
of the people, especially that before my door, and kept in order 
only, as many people thought, by a military patrol, ordered, I 
believe, by the Governor of Pennsylvania. 

In these circumstances it was my opinion, and it is so still, it 
was infinitely better to conduct the negotiation at Paris than in 
Philadelphia. But if this was and is an error, it was certainly 
not of such consequence as Hamilton thought fit to represent 
it. If it was an error, I humbly conceive it would have better 
become Mr. Hamilton to have been silent than to endeavor to 
make it unpopular, since the step was taken and irrevocable 
when he wrote. 

But the real truth is, he was in hopes, as well as Mr. Liston, 
that the French government would neither send a minister here 
nor receive one there — in short, that they would have gone to 
war with us. If we had waited for a minister here, much time 
would have been lost. Our little naval force under Talbot, 


Truxtun, Decatur, Little, &c., was doing wonders in protecting 
our commerce, and in fighting and capturing French ships of 
war. Some of our citizens were not wanting in irritating ex- 
pressions of exultation and triumph, particularly in parading a 
French national ship that had been captured by Decatur, up the 
Delaware, in sight of all the citizens of Philadelphia, with the 
French national colors reversed under our American flag. Ha- 
milton hoped that such provocations would produce an irrecon- 
cilable breach and a declaration of war. He was disappointed, 
and lost the command of his army. Hinc illce lacrimce ! 

There were other circumstances of more serious and solid 
importance, indicative of public opinion, which Mr. Hamilton, 
if he had been a vigilant and sagacious statesman, could not 
have overlooked. The venerable patriarchs, Pendleton and 
Wythe, of Virginia, openly declaimed for peace; the former 
came out in print with his name, protesting against a war with 
our sister republic of France. General Heath came out with 
an address to the public in Massachusetts, declaring that every 
man he met was decidedly for peace. When the election was 
coming on, the legislature of Massachusetts dare not trust the 
people, either at large or in districts, to choose electors, but 
assumed that office to themselves. In New York, the great 
interest and vast bodies of the people, who are supposed to 
follow or direct the two great families of Clintons and Living- 
stons, aided by all the address and dexterity of Aaron Burr, 
was decidedly for peace with France. In Pennsylvania, Gover- 
nor M'Kean, with his majority of thirty thousand votes, or in 
other words, at the head of the two vast bodies of Germans 
and Irish, reenforced by great numbers of English Presbyterians, 
Quakers and Anabaptists, Avere decidedly against a war with 

After enumerating all these symptoms of the popular bias, it 
would be frivolous to enlarge upon the conversations, of which 
I was informed, at taverns and insurance offices, threatening 
violence to the President by pulling him out of his chair; upon 
the French cockades that were everywhere paraded before my 
eyes, in opposition to the black cockade ; or upon the declara- 
tions and oaths, which I know were made by no small numbers, 
that if we went to war with France, and the French should 
come here, they would join them against the federalists and the 


English. These things I recollect with grief, because they do 
no honor to our country ; but I must say they disgrace it no 
more than many more solemn actions and declarations of the 
opposite party, against France and in favor of England, have 
done within the last twelve months. 

In these circumstances, it was the height of folly to say, as 
Hamilton says, that it would have been safer to negotiate at 
Philadelphia than at Paris. As to our ambassadors' being 
overawed in Paris, by any finesse of politicians, or triumphs of 
the French arms, we must take care to send men who are equal 
to such trials. The French have not, as yet, gained any great 
and unjust advantages of us by all their policy. Our envoys 
were precisely instructed. Every article w^as prescribed that 
was to be insisted on as an ultimatum. In a treaty they could 
not depart from a punctilio. A convention they might make, 
as they did, at their own risk. But the President and Senate 
were under no obligation to ratify it. Had it betrayed a 
single point of essential honor or interest, I would have sent 
it back, a s Mr. J efferson did the treaty with England, without 
laying it before the Senate. If I had been doubtful, the Senate 
would have decided. 

Where, then, was the danger of this negotiation ? Nowhere 
but in the disturbed imagination of Alexander Hamilton. To 
me only it was dangerous. To me, as a public man, it was 
fatal, and that only because Alexander Hamilton was pleased 
to wield it as a poisoned weapon with the express purpose of 
destroyi iTg. Though I owe him no thanks for this, I most 
heartily rejoice in it, because it has given me eight ye ars, in- 
comparably the happiest of my life, whereas, had I been chosen 
President again, I am certain I could not have lived another 
year. It was utterly impossible that I could have lived through 
one year more of such labors and cares as were studiously and 
maliciously accumulated upon me by the French faction and 
the British faction, the former aided by the republicans, and the 
latter by Alexander Hamilton and his satellites. 




Mr. Hamilton, in his pamphlet, speaks of the anterior mission 
of Messrs. Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, and says, "it was 
resolved to make another and a more solemn experiment in the 
form of a commission of three." 

When I first read this sentence, I am not certain whether it 
excited most of astonishment, indignation, contempt, or ridicule. 
By whom was this measure resolved ? By President Washing- 
ton ? Certainly not. If it had been, he would have nominated 
the ministers. By the President elect, Mr. Adams ? Certainly 
not. He had not been consulted. His resolutions were not 
known. By whom, then, was this important resolution taken? 
By Mr. Hamilton and his privy counsellors. And what had 
Mr. Hamilton and his privy counsellors to do with the business? 
And who were his privy counsellors ? ^ 

Page 22, he says, " the expediency of the step was suggested 
to Mr. Adams, through a federal channel, a considerable time 
before he determined to take it. He hesitated whether it could 
be done, after the rejection of General Pinckney, without na- 
tional debasement. The doubt was an honorable one." I 
disclaim and renounce all the honor of this doubt. I never 
entertained such a doubt for a moment. I might ask the 
opinion of twenty persons (for I, too, "consulted much"), in 
order to discover whether there was any doubt in the public 
mind, or any party who were averse to such a measure, or had 
any doubt about it. But I never had any hesitation myself. 
This passage, like all the rest of this pamphlet, shows that it 
was written from his mere imagination, from confused rumors, 
or downright false information. 

It is true, " the expediency of the step was suggested to. Mr. 
Adams," before he took the step, and before he had time to take 
it, but long after he had determined to take it. The mystery 
may be revealed. I have no motive, whatever others may have, 
to conceal or dissemble it. 

The morning after my inauguration, ^ Mr. Fisher Ames made 

1 These questions, in process of time, find their solution. See the letter 
of Mr. Hamilton to T. Sedgwick, Senator from Massachusetts, 26th February, 
1797. Hamiltoiis Works, vol. vi. p. 209. 

2 This conversation occurred the day be fore the inauguration ; which is con- 


me a visit to take leave. His period in Congress had expired, 
and the delicacy of his health, the despondency of his disposi- 
tion, and despair of a reelection from the increase of the opposite 
party in his district, had induced him to decline to stand a can- 
didate. I was no longer to have the assistance of his counsel 
and eloquence, though Mr. Hamilton continued to enjoy both 
till his death. Mr. Ames was no doubt one of Mr. Hamilton's 
privy council, when he resolved to send a new commission of 
three. Mr. Ames, with much gravity and solemnity, advised 
me to institute a new mission to France. Our affairs with that 
republic were in an unpleasant and dangerous situation, and 
the people, in a long recess of Congress, must have some object 
on which to fix their contemplation and their hopes. And he 
recommended Mr. George Cabot, for the northern States, to be 
one of the three, if a commission was to be sent, or alone, if 
but one was to go. 

I answered Mr. Ames, that the subject had almost engrossed 
my attention for a long time. That I should take every thing 
into serious consideration, and determine nothing suddenly; 
that I should make deliberate inquiries concerning characters, 
and maturely consider the qualities and qualifications of candi- 
dates, before any thing was finally determined. Mr. Ames 
departed for Massachusetts.^ 

firmed by Mr. Jefferson, in bis account of the interview that followed; also 
by a letter to Mr. Gerry, vol. vili. p. 539. 

1 This is an abridoment of the following account originally drawn up in 1801 : 
" On the 3d or 4th of March, 1797, ]VIr. Fisher Ames, of Massachusetts, made 
a visit to Mr. Adams at his lodgings before he took possession of the President's 
house. He did not inform Mr. Adams, that he came at the instigation of Mr. 
Hamilton ; but he said ' he waited on Mr. Adams to propose to him something 
which labored much in his mind. Congress was about to rise. The recess 
Avould be long. The people, in the recess of Congress, felt like sheep without 
a shepherd. They had no object to which they could look up. The children 
of Israel must have a pillar of fire to go before them by niojht, as well as a cloud 
by day. All were anxious about the state of our affairs with France. General 
Pinckney, although no doubt a worthy man, and of high character in the south- 
ern States, was not known in the northern, and very little known in the middle 
States. The whole American people were too little acquainted with his person 
and character, to rest upon it with entire confidence and satisfaction, and he had 
too little experience in the political affairs of the United States to be able, pro- 
bably, to form a perfect estimate of the present views and temper of the whole 
continent. He thought it expedient, therefore, to send some gentleman from 
the northern States, who knew the present state of America, and in whom the 
northern and middle States could fully confide ; and he named Mr. George 
Cabot, of Massachusetts, as the candidate.' ]Mr. Hamilton says, ' Mr. Adams 
hesitated whether it could be done after the rejection of General Pinckney, 


I had rolled all these things in my own mind long before. 
The French nation and their government were in a very um- 
brageous and inflammable disposition. Much delicacy and 
deliberation were necessary in the choice of characters. Most 
of the prominent characters in America were as well known at 
Paris as they were at Philadelphia. I had sometimes thought 
of sending Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton, to join Mr. Pinck- 
ney, in a new commission. I had thought of Mr. Ames himself, 
as well as Mr. Cabot, Judge Dana, Mr. Gerry, and many others 
in the northern, middle, and southern States. I thought much 
of Mr. Jefferson, but had great doubt whether the Constitution 
would allow me to send the Vice-President abroad. The nation 
at large had assigned him a station, which I doubted whether 
he had a right to abandon, or I a right to invite him to relin- 
quish, though but for a time. 

I had great doubts about reappointing Mr. Pinckney. He 
might have been so affected with the horrors he had seen ox 
heard in France, as to have uttered some expressions, which, 
reported by spies to the ruling powers, might have excited pre- 
judices against him, which would insure his second rejection, 
and that of his colleagues too. But as I knew of no sach accu- 
sation, I could not bear the thought of abandoning him. I had 
not time to communicate all these reflections to Mr. Ames, and, 
moreover, I had business of more importance to do. I had long 
wished to avail myself and the public of the fine talents and 
amiable qualities and manners of Mr. Madison. Soon after Mr. 
"Ames left me, I sought and obtained an interview with Mr. Jeffer- 
son. / With this gentleman I h ad lived on terms of intimate 

without national debasement.' Here is the anachronism and confusion of ideas. 
The news of the rejection of General Pinckney had not then arrived in any 
part of America, and it was not till several weeks afterwards that it did arrive. 
So that it is impossible that Mr. Adams could then have hesitated for that 
reason. The truth is, he hesitated not a moment, for the idea had been familiar 
to him for several weeks. He answered Mr. Ames in this manner ; ' He was 
much obliged to Mr. Ames for his visit and advice; was very happy to find, 
that the measure of sending a new minister or ministers to join General Pinck- 
ney, had occurred to Mr. Ames, and had his approbation. That it was a thought 
wliich he had revolved in his own mind for some time ; that he should think of 
it very seriously, and, if he should ultimately resolve upon it, after he should 
have considei-ed the questions whether one or two should be sent, and also con- 
sidered who were the persons m.ost likely to give satisfaction everywhere, Mr. 
Ames might hear more of it, and possibly before the Senate should adjourn ; 
that he thought very well of Mr. Cabot, but could determine nothing at present.' 
Mr. Ames returned to Massachusetts, and Mr. Adams set himself to consider 
the whole subject" 


friends hip foiV_Jive-and-twenty years, had acted with him in / 
dangerous times and arduous conflicts, and always found him 
assiduous, laborious, and as far as I could judge, upright and 
faithful. Though by this time I diftered from him in opinion by 
the whole horizon concerning the practicability and success of 
the French revolution, and some other points, I had no reason 
to think that he differed materially from me with regard to our 
national Constitution. I did not think that the rumbling noise 
of party calumny ought to discourage me from consulting men 
whom I knew to be attached to the interest of the nation, and 
whose experience^ genius, learning, and travels had eminently 
qualified them to give advice. I asked Mr. Jefferson what he 
thought of another trip to Paris, and whether he thought the 
Constitution and the people would be willing to spare him for a 
- short time. "Are you determined to send to France?" " Yes." 
" That is right," said Mr. Jefferson ; " but without considering 
whether the Constitution wnll allow it or not, I am so sick of 
residing in Europe, that I believe 1 shall never go there again." 
I replied, " I own I have strong doubts whether it would be legal 
to appoint you; but I believe no man could do the business so 
well. What do you th ink of sending Mr. Madison ? Do you 
think he would accept o^ an appointment? " " I do not know," 
said Mr. Jefferson. " Washington wanted to appoint him some 
time ago, and kept the place open for him a long time ; but he 
never could get him to say that he would go." Other characters 
were considered, and other conversation ensued. We parted as 

good friends as we had always lived ; butwe consulted very 

liTtl e together afterwards. Party violence soon rendered it 
impracticable, or at least useless, and this party violence was 
excited by Hamilton more than any other man.^ 

I will not take leave of Mr. Jefferson in this place, without f 
declaring my opinion that the accusations against him of blind , / 
devotion to France, of hostility to England, of hatred to com- i / 
merce, of partiality and duplicity in his late negotiations with j 
the belligerent powers, are without foundatioUy/ 

From Mr. Jefferson F went to one of the breads of depart- 
ments,^ whom Mr. Washington had appointed, and I had no 

1 Compare ]\Ir. Jefferson's account of this conference, vol. iv. of his works, 
p. 501. Also pp. 538 - 539 of volume viii. of this work. 

2 O. Wolcott, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury. 


thoughts of removing. Indeed, I had then no objection to any 
of the secretaries. I asked him what he thought of sending 
Mr. Madison to France, with or without others. " Is it deter- 
mined to send to France at all ? " " Determined ! Nothing is 
determined till it is executed," smiling. "But why not? I 
thought it deserved consideration." " So it does." " But sup- 
pose it determined, what do you think of sending Mr. Madison ? " 
" Is it determined to send Mr. Madison ? " " No ; but it de- 
serves consideration." " Sending Mr. Madison will make dire 
work among the passions of our parties in Congress, and out 
of doors, through the States ! " "Are we forever to be overawed 
and directed by party passions ? " All this conversation on my 
part Avas with the most perfect civility, good humor, and indeed 
familiarity ; but I found it excited a profound gloom and solemn 
countenance in my companion, which after some time broke 
out in, " Mr. President, we are willing to resign." Nothing 
could have been more unexpected to me than this observation ; 
nothing was farther from my thoughts than to give any pain or 
uneasiness. I had said nothing that could possibly displease, 
except pronouncing the name of Madison. I restrained my 
surprise, however, and only said, I hope nobody will resign ; I 
am satisfied with all the public officers. 

Upon further inquiries of the other heads of departments and 
of other persons, I found that party passions had so deep and 
extensive roots, that I seriously doubted whether the Senate 
would not negative Mr. Madison, if I should name him. Rather 
than to expose him to a negative, or a doubtful contest in the 
Senate, I concluded to omit him. If I had nominated Madison, 
I should have nominated Hamilton with him.^ The former, I 
knew, was much esteemed in France ; the latter was rather an 
object of jealousy. But I thought the French would tolerate 
one for the sake of the other. And I thought, too, that the 
manners of the one would soon wear off the prejudices against 
him, and probably make him a greater favorite than the other. 
But having given up Madison, I ought to give up Hamilton 
too. Whom then should I name ? I mentioned Mr. Dana and 

1 In the early draught, Mr. Adams says, he " •would A-ery Avlllingly have ap- 
pointed Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Madison, with one other, if he had thought it 
probable Mr. Madison would accept, and that the Senate would consent, and if 
he had thought it compatible with the sjiirit wliich America ought to display at 
that time." 


Mr. Gerry to the heads of departments, and to many leading 
men in both houses. They all preferred Mr. Dana. But it was 
evident enough to me that neither Dana nor Gerry was their 
man. Dana was appointed, but refused. I then called the 
heads of departments together, and proposed Mr. Gerry. All 
the five 1 voices unanimously were against him. Such invete- 
rate prejudice shocked me. I said nothing, but was determined 
I would not be the slave of it. I knew the man infinitely bet- 
ter than all of them. He was nominated and approved, and 
finally saved the peace of the nation ; fo r he alone d iscovered 
and furnished the evidence that X. Y. and Z. were employed 

by Tajleyrand ; and he alone brought home the direct, formal, 
and official assurances upon which the subsequent commission 
proceeded, and peace was made. 

I considered Mr. Ames's candidate, Mr. Cabot,^ as deliberately 
as any of the others, and with as favorable and friendly a dis- 
position towards him as any other without exception. But I 
knew his character and connections were as well known in 
France, particularly by Talleyrand, as Mr. Gerry's were ; and 
that there were great objections against the former, and none at 
all against the latter. It would be therefore inexcusable in me 
to hazard the success of the mission merely to gratify the pas- 
sions of a party in America, especially as I knew Mi'. Gerry, to 
say the least, to be full as well qualified by his studies, his 
experience, and every quality, for the service, as the other. 

I afterwards nominated Mr. Cabot to be Secretary of the 
Navy, a station as useful, as important, and as honorable, as the 
other, and for which he was eminently qualified. But this he 

No man had a greater share in propagating and diffusing 
these prejudices against Mr. Gerry than Hamilton. Whether he 
had formerly conceived jealousies against him as a rival candi- 
date for the secretaryship of the treasury ; (for Mr. Gerry was a 
financier, and had been employed for years on the committee 
on the treasury in the old Congress, and a most indefatigable 

1 A mistake pointed out by Mr. Stoddert, one of tlie five ministers alluded to, 
but bis office bad not been created in Marcb, 1797. Mr. Adams promised to 
correct it in any later publication of tbese papers, but none has taken place 
until now. 

2 Or rather nominated by Mr. Hamilton, not only through Mr. Ames, but 
Mr. Pickering and Mr. Wolcott. Hamillon's Works, vol. vi. pp. 214, 218, 230. " 


member too; that committee had laid the foundation for the 
present system of the treasury, and had organized it ahiiost as 
well, though they had not the assistance of clerks and other 
conveniences as at present ; any man who will look into the 
journals of the old Congress, may see the organization and the 
daily labors and reports of that committee, and may form some 
judgment of the talents and services of Mr. Gerry in that de- 
partment; I knew that the officers of the treasury, in Hamilton's 
time, dreaded to see him rise in the House upon any question 
of finance, because they said he was a man of so much influence 
that they always feared he would discover some error or carry 
some point against them) ; or whether he feared that Mr. Gerry 
would be President of the United States before him, I know 
not.^ He was not alone, however. His friends among the heads, 
of departments, and their correspondents in Boston, New York, 
and Philadelphia, sympathized with him very cordially in his 
hatred of Gerry, and of every other man who had labored and 
suffered early in the revolution. 

This preference of Mr. Gerry to Mr. Cabot was my first mor- 
tal offence against my sovereign heads of departments and their 
disciples in all the States. It never was or has been forgiven 
me by those who call themselves, or are called by others, " the 
leading men " among the federalists. 

Mr. Hamilton says, "After the rejection of Mr. Pinckney by 
the government of France, immediately after the instalment of 
Mr. Adams as President,^ and long before the measure was 
taken, I urged a member of Congress, then high in the confi- 
dence of the President, to propose to him the immediate appoint- 
ment of three commissioners, of whom Mr. Jefferson or Mr. 
Madison to be one, to make another attempt to negotiate." 

I will relate all that I can recollect relative to this subject. 
Mr. Tracy, of Connecticut, who indeed was always in my con- 
fidence, came to me, I believe, at the opening of the special 
session of Congress, which I called soon after my inauguration, 

^ This is regarded as very unjust bj^^Mr. Gibbs. But it is deserving of parti- 
cular notice that no leading public man of the country, in any way of rival 
powers, receives aid to his reputation from the publication that has been made 
of Mr. Hamilton's writings. 

2 The anaclironism here, so far as the first event can be supposed to have had 
any share in Mr. Hamilton's action at the time here specified, is evident. Mr. 
Pinckney's letter of the 1st of February, notifying his rejection, was not re- 
ceived in America until the niontli of April, 


and produced a long, elaborate letter from Mr. Hamilton, con- 
taining a whole system of instruction for the conduct of the 
President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. I 
read it very deliberately, and reall y thought th e man was in a 
delkium . It appeared to me a very extraordinary instance of 
volunteer empiricism thus to prescribe for a President, Senate, 
and House of Representatives, all desperately sick and in a state 
of deplorable debility, without being called. And when I ma- 
turely considered the contents of the letter, my surprise was 
increased. I despised and detested the letter too much to take 
a copy of it, which I now regret. This letter is still in being, 
and I doubt not many copies of it are extant. I most earnestly 
request any gentleman who possesses one, to publish it. That 
letter, though it had no influence with me, had so much with 
both houses of Congress as to lay the foundation of the over- 
throw of the federal party, and of the revolution that followed 
four years afterwards. I will endeavor to recollect as much of 
the contents of it as I can, and if I am incorrect in any point, 
those who possess the letter can, by the publication of it, easily 
set all right. 

It began by a dissertation on the extraordinarily critical situa- 
tion of the United States. 

It recommended a new mission to France of three commis- 
sioners, Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison to be one. 

It recommended the raising an army of fifty thousand men, 
ten thousand of them to be cavahy ; an army of great im- 
portance in so extensive a country, vulnerable at so many 
points on the frontiers, and so accessible in so many places by 

It recommended an alien and sedition law. 

It recommended an invigoration of the treasury, by seizing 
on all the taxable articles not yet taxed by the government. 
And lastly, 

It recommended a national Fast, not only on account of the 
intrinsic propriety of it, but because we should be very unskilful 
if we neglected to avail ourselves of the religious feelings of the 
people in a crisis so difficult and dangerous. 

There might be more, but these are all that I now recollect. 

Mr. Hamilton's imagination was always haunted by that 

VOL. IX. 25 s 


hideous monster or phantom, so often called a crisis, and which 
so often produces imprudent measures.^ 

How it happened that Mr. Hamilton's contemplations coin- 
cided so exactly with mine, as to think of Mr. Jefterson or Mr. 
Madison for envoy to France, it may be more difficult to ex- 
plain. But let it be considered that this letter was written long 
after my conversation with Mr. Jefterson, concerning himself 
and Ml". Madison, which was the morning after my inaugura- 
tion;^ that I had communicated that conversation to one or 
more of the heads of departments the same morning. It is 
probable, therefore, that Mr. Hamilton received hints from some 
of his correspondents that I had thought of Madison and Ha- 
milton, and that he was not displeased with the idea.^ I asked 
one of the heads of departments, how he could account for 
Hamilton's recommending Jefierson or Madison. " Why," said 
the gentleman, " I suppose Hamilton is weary of his prac- 
tice as an attorney, at New York, and is willing to enter into 
some other employment." Mr. Hamilton, however, might 
thank those who had been his warmest friends for his disap- 
pointment ; for, had it not been for their opposition to Madison, 
I should have appointed him and Hamilton. 

The army of fifty thousand men, ten thousand of them to be 
horse, appeared to me to be one of the wildest extravagances 
of a knight-errant. It proved to me that Mr. Hamilton knew 
no more of the sentiments and feelings of the people of Ame- 
rica, than he did of those of the inhabitants of one of the 
planets. Such an army without an eilemy to combat, would 
have raised a rebellion in every State in the Union. The very 
idea of the expense of it would have turned President, Senate, 
and House out of doors. I adopted none of these chimeras 
into my speech, and only recommended the raising of a few 
regiments of artillery to garrison the fortifications of the most 
exposed places. Yet such was the influence of Mr. Hamilton 
in Congress, that, without any recommendation from the Presi- 
dent, they passed a bill to raise an army, not a large one, 
indeed, but enough to overturn the then Federal government. 

1 See Sparks's Life of Gouverneur Morris. G. Morris to Aaron Ogden, vol. ill. 
p. 216-17. 

2 The morning before. Mr. Wolcott is the head of department alluded to. 

3 This is not just to Mr. Hamilton, who certainly had suggested this mission 
as early as February, 1797, to Mr. Sedgwick. 


Nor did I adopt his idea of an alien or sedition law. I re- 
commended no such thing in my speech. Congress, however, 
adop ted both these measures. I knew there was need enough 
of both, and therefore I consented to them. But as they were 
then considered as war measures, and intended altogether 
against the advocates of the French and peace with France, I 
w^as apprehensive that a hurricane of clamor would be raised 
against them, as in truth there was, even more fierce and vio- 
lent than I had anticipated. 

Seizing on all the taxable articles not yet taxed, to support 
an army of fifty thousand men, at a time when so many tax 
laws, already enacted, were unexecuted in so many States, and 
when insurrections and rebellions had already been excited in 
Pennsylvania, on account of taxes, appeared to me altogether 
desperate, altogether delirious.^ 

I wanted no admonition from Mr. Hamilton to institute a 
national fast. I had determined on this measure long enough 
before Mr. Hamilton's letter was written. And here let me say, 
with great sincerity, that 1 think there is nothing upon this 
earth more sublime and affecting than the idea of a great nation 
all on their knees at once before their God, acknowledging their 
faults and imploring his blessing and protection, when the pros- 
pect before them threatens great danger and calamity. It can 
scarcely fail to have a favorable effect on their morals in gene- 
ral, or to inspire them with warlike virtues in particular. When 
most, if not all of the religious sects in the nation, hold such fasts 
among themselves, I never could see the force of the objections 
against making them, on great and extraordinary occasions, 
national ; unless it be the jealousy of the separate States, lest 
the general government should become too national. Those 
however, who differ from me in opinion on this point, have as 
good a right to their judgment as I have to mine, and I shall 
submit mine to the general will. 

In fine, Mr. Hamilton, in the passage I have been comment- 
ing upon, in this letter, has let out facts which, if he had pos- 
sessed a grain of common sense, he would have wished should 
be forever concealed. I should never have revealed or explained 
them, if he and his partisans had not compelled me. 

^ See Mr. Hamilton's plan, in his letter to O. Wolcott. Works, vol. vi. pp. 



In page 26, is a strain of Jlimsy jant, as silly as it is indecent. 
" The supplement to the declaration was a blamable excess. 
It waved the point of honor, which after two rejections of our 
ministers required that the next mission should proceed from 

Where did he find this point of honor? If any such point 
had existed, it had its full force against the second mission ; and 
its principal force consisted in the formal declaration of the*. 
Directory, that it " never would receive another minister pleni- 
potentiary without apologies for the President's speeches and 
answers to addresses." If we had a right to wave this point of 
honor in one instance, we had in two^ eiipecially as one member 
of the second mission was the same man who had been rejected 
in the first. But after the explicit retraction of the declaration 
that they would not receive a minister without apologies, the 
point of honor was completely done away. To give them an 
opportunity of retracting that declaration, I declared, in my 
message to Congress, that I would not send another minister to 
France till this declaration was retracted by assurances that he 
should be received in character. They embraced the opportu- 
nity cordially, when they might have avoided the humiliation 
by sending a minister here. And whatever Hamilton's opinion 
might be, I knew that they might have negotiated more to their 
advantage here than in Paris. Hamilton's fingers had not the 
tact, or tactility, if you like the word better, of the public pulse. 

He argues the probability that France would have sent a 
minister here, from the fact that she did afterwards " stifle her 
resentment, and invite the renewal of negotiation." I know 
not whether this is an example of Mr. Hamilton's "analysis 
of investigation" or not. It is an argument a posteriori. It 
is reasoning upward or backw^ard. 

These invitations were not known nor made, when I pledged 
myself, by implication at least, to send a minister, when such 
invitations should be made. When they were made, I con- 
sidered my own honor and the honor of the government com- 
mitted. And I have not a doubt that Hamilton thought so 
too ; and that one of his principal vexations was, that neither 
himself nor his privy counsellors could have influence enough 


with me to persuade or intimidate me to disgrace myself in the 
eyes of the people of America and the world by violating my 

This he might think would assist him in his caucuses at New 
York and Philadelphia, where the honor, not only of every mem- 
ber, but of every State and every elector, was to be pledged, to 
give an equal vote for Pinckney and Adams, that the choice of 
President should be left to the House of Representatives, whose 
members, on the day of election, or the day before, were to be 
furnished with this pamphlet, spick and span, to make sure of 
the sacrifice of Adams. But more of this hereafter. 

In the mean time, what reasons had we to expect that the 
French government would send a minister here ? Such an idea 
had been whispered in private conversation, perhaps, by Dr. 
Logan and some others ; but we had not a color of official 
information to that eflect, that I remember. What motives had 
the French to send a minister ? They had committed depreda- 
jtions upon pu,r.. commerce, to the amount, it has been said, of 
twenty millions of dollars. Would the Directory have been 
animated with any great zeal to send an ambassador to offer 
us compensation for these spoliations, at a time when they were 
driven to their wit's end to find revenues and resources to carry 
on the w^ar in Europe, and break the confederations against 
them ? 

We had declared the treaty of alliance, and all treaties be- 
tween France and the United States, null and void. Do we 
suppose the French government would have been in haste to 
send an ambassador to offer us a solemn revocation, by treaty, 
of all former treaties ? What urgent motive could the French 
have to be in haste to send a minister? They could not be 
apprehensive that we should send an army to Europe to con- 
quer France, or assist her enemies. We had no naval power 
sufficient to combat their navy in Europe, which was then far 
from being reduced as it has been since. They had no com- 
merce or mercantile navigation, upon which our little navy or 
privateers could have made reprisals. 

There is but one motive that I can imagine should have sti- 
mulated them very much, and that is, the apprehension that we 
might enter into an alliance offensive and defensive with Great 
Britain. This they might have considered as a serious afiair 



to them in a course of time, though they might not fear any 
very immediate harm from it. But I doubt not the French had 
information from a thousand emissaries, and Talleyrand knew 
from personal observation in various parts of America, and Ha- 
milton must have known, if he had any feeling of the popular 
pulse, that a vast majority of the people of America dreaded an 
alliance with Great Britain more than they did a war with 
France. It would have taken a long time, it would have 
required a long and bloody war with France, and a violent 
exasperation of the public mind, to have reconciled the people 
to any such measure. No, Hamilton and his associates could 
not have seriously believed that the French would soon send a 
minister here. If they had not, or if they had delayed it, Ha- 
milton would have continued at the head of his army. Con- 
tinual provocations and irritations would have taken place 
between the two nations, till one or the other would have de- 
clared war. In the mean time, it was my opinion then, and has 
been ever since, that the two parties in the United States would 
have broken out into a civil war ; a majority of all the States 
to the southward of Hudson River, united with nearly half New 
England, would have raised an army under Aaron Burr; a 
majority of New England might have raised another under Ha- 
milton. Burr would have beaten Hamilton to pieces, and what 
would have followed next, let the prophets foretell. But such 
would have been the result of Hamilton's " enterprises of great 
pith and moment." I say this would probably have been the 
course and result of things, had a majority of New England 
continued to be attached to Hamilton, his men and measures. 
But I am far from believing this. On the contrary, had not 
our envoys proceeded, had not the people expected a peace with 
France from that negotiation. New England herself, at the 
elections of 1800, would have turned out Hamilton's whole 
party, and united with the southern and middle States in bring- 
ing in men who might have made peace on much less advan- 
tageous terms. 

And now, let the world judge who "consulted much," who 
" pondered much," who " resolved slowly," and who "resolved 



Mr. Hamilton acknowledges, that "the President had pledged 
himself in his speech" (he should have said in his message) "to 
send a minister, if satisfactory assurances of a proper reception 
were given." Notwithstanding this, Mr. Hamilton, and all his 
confidential friends, exerted their utmost art and most strenuous 
endeavors to prevail on the President to violate this pledge. 
What can any man think of the disposition of these men 
towards the personal or official character of the President, but 
that they were secretly, if not avowedly, his most determined 
and most venomous enemies ? When the measure had been 
solemnly, irrevocably determined, and could not be recalled nor 
delayed without indelible dishonor, I own I was astonished, I 
was grieved, I was afflicted, to see such artificial schemes em- 
ployed, such delays studied, such embarrassments thrown in the 
way, by men who were, or at least ought to have been, my 
bosom friends. 

This was a point of honor indeed ; not such a stupid, fantasti- 
cal point of honor as that which Mr. Hamilton maintains with 
so much fanaticism and so much folly ; but a point of honor in 
which my moral character was involved as well as the public 
faith of the nation. Hamilton's point of honor was such as one 
of those Irish duellists, who love fighting better than feasting, 
might have made a pretext for sending a challenge; and however 
conformable it might be to Hamilton's manner of thinking, it 
was altogether inconsistent with the moral, religious, and poli- 
tical character of the people of America. It was such a point 
of honor as a Machiavelian or a Jesuit might have made a 
pretext for a war. It was such a point of honor as a Roman 
senate, in the most corrupt days of that republic, might have 
made a pretext for involving the nation in a foreign war, when 
patrician monopolies of land, and patrician usury at twelve per 
cent, a month, had excited the plebeian debtors to the crisis 
of a civil war. But the American people were not Roman 
plebeians. They were not to be deceived by such thin dis- 

Surely, those who have lately censured Mr. Jefferson and Mr. 
Madison, for insisting on knowing the satisfaction which was 
to be given for the outrage on the Chesapeake, before they 


revoked a certain proclamation, can never blame me for not 
insisting on a point that was no point of honor at all. 

Mr. Hamilton says, " When the President pledged himself in 
his speech" (he should have said his message) "to send a minis- 
ter, if satisfactory assurances of a proper reception were given, 
he must have been understood to mean such as w^ere direct and 
official, not such as were both informal and destitute of a compe- 
tent sanction^ 

The words "direct and indirect," "official and inofficial," 
" formal and informal," " competent sanction," &c., appear to 
have seized this gentleman's mind, and to have rolled and 
tumbled in it till they had produced an entire confusion of his 

He here supposes that I did not understand my own message, 
and patriotically undertakes to expound it both for me and the 
public. According to his metaphysics, 1 meant, by assurances 
of a proper reception, assurances direct and official, not such as 
were informal. Let me ask, what more formal or official assur- 
ances could have been given than Talleyrand's letters ? What 
more formal, official, or direct, than Mr. Gerry's letters ? If I 
understand Mr. Hamilton, he must have meant to say that my 
message demanded an ambassador to be sent directly from the 
Directory to me, for the express purpose of assuring me that 
they would receive a minister plenipotentiary from me. This, 
instead of being my meaning, was directly the reverse of it. 
From first to last I had refused to be taken in this snare. I had 
always refused to demand that a minister should be sent here 
/^ » first, though I had declared explicitly enough in my speech, that 
a French minister, if sent, should be received. I had always 
insisted that both the doors of negotiation should be held open. 
And as I have already said, I now repeat, that I preferred to 
send a minister rather than to receive one ; not only for the 
reasons explained in a former letter, but because I thought the 
amende honorable ought to be made at Paris, where the offence 
was given ; where it would be known and observed by all Eu- 
rope ; whereas, if it had been made at Philadelphia, little notice 
would have been taken of it by any part of the world. 

I am somewhat disappointed in not finding in this pamphlet 
the word "obscure" applied to Mr. Pichon, because the news- 
papers in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, written by Mr. 



Hamilton's coadjutors and fellow-laborers in the same field of 
scandal, had profusely scattered their dull sarcasms on the 
obscurity of the agent or agents at the Hague. Mr. Pichon 
obscure I A secretary of legation and charge des affaires ob- 
scure, especially in the absence of his ambassador! The office 
of secretary of legation is an object of ambition and desire to 
many of the first scientific and literary characters in Europe. 
The place is worth about a thousand guineas a year, and aftbrds 
a fine opportunity and great advantages for travel, and is , com- 
monly a sure road to promotion. These secretaries are almost 
always men of science, letters, and business. They are often 
more relied upon than the ambassadors themselves for the sub- 
stantial part of business. Ambassadors are often chosen for 
their birth, rank, title, riches, beauty, eleganc^e of manners, or 
good humor. They are intended to do honor to their sovereigns 
by their appearance and representation. Secretaries of legation 
are selected for their science, learning, talents, industry, and 
habits of business. I doubt not Mr. Locke or Sir Isaac Newton 
in their younger days would have thought themselves fortunate 
to have been offered such a place. Would these have been 
called obscure ? Was Matthew Prior or David Hume obscure ? 
Yet both of them were secretaries of legation I 

Such reflections as these, which were thrown upon Mr. 
Pichon, might impose upon a people who knew no better than 
the wnriters, but must have been despised by every man who 
knew any thing of the world. 

Had Talleyrand sent his letters to General Washington to 
be communicated to me, had he sent them directly to my Secre- 
tary of State, had he sent them to the Spanish minister to be 
by him communicated to the Secretary of State, or to the 
Dutch minister for the same purpose, I do not say that I would 
have nominated a minister in consequence of them ; nor will I 
say that I would not. There is no need to determine this ques- 
tion, because, in fact, the utmost rigor of diplomatic etiquette 
was observed. But I will say, that my message demanded 
nothing but evidence to convince my own mind and give satis- 
faction to the Senate and the public, that a minister would be 
received. And if such evidence had arrived to me in any man- 
ner that would leave no doubt in the public mind, I would not 
have sacrificed the national neutrality to any diplomatic tram- 
mels or shackles whatever. 



In page 26, Mr. Hamilton says, that the mission •' could 
hardly fail to injure our interests with other countries." 

This is another of those phantoms which he had conjured up 
to terrify minds and nerves as weak as his own. It was a com- 
monplace theme of discourse, which, no doubt, the British fac- 
tion very efficaciously assisted him in propagating. I know 
it made impression on some, from whose lips I too often heard 
it, and from whom I expected more sense and firmness. It 
appeared to me so mean, servile, and timorous, that I own I did 
not always hear it with patience. 

Which were those other countries ? They could not be Spain, 
Holland, or any countries in the north or south of Europe which 
were in alliance with France or under her obedience. They 
could be only England, Russia, and Sweden, for we had nothing 
to do with any but maritime powers. And what interest of 
ours could be injured with any of these powers ? Would any 
of these powers make war upon us, and sacrifice the benefits 
they received from our commerce, because we made peace with 
France, asserted and maintained our impartial neutrality, and 
stipulated nothing inconsistent with their rights, honor, or dig- 
nity? If such chimerical fears as these were to govern our 
conduct, it was idle to talk of our independence. We might as 
well petition the king and parliament of Great Britain to take 
us again under their gracious protection. 

In page 36, he says, I " might secretly and confidentially have 
nominated one or more of our ministers actually abroad for the 
purpose of treating with France ; with eventual instructions 
predicated upon appearances of approaching peace." 

Mr. Hamilton had entirely forgot the Constitution of the 
United States. All nominations must be made to the Senate, 
and if the President requests, and the Senate enjoins secrecy, 
secrecy will not be kept. Stephens Thompson Mason was 
then a member of the Senate ; and if he had not been, there 
were twenty other means of communicating the thing to the 
public. Had secrecy been requested and enjoined when Mr. 
Murray was nominated, every man whose emulation was mor- 
tified would have had the secret in three hours. But had the 
secret been kept, Mr. Murray must have gone to Paris with his 


full powers, or must have communicated them to Mr. Pichon ; 
the French government must have appointed a minister to treat 
with him; their full powers must have been exchanged; neither 
the French government nor their ministers would have kept it 
secret. And why all this cunning? That we might not give 
umbrage to England. This very motive, if there had been any 
thing in it, \vould have induced the French to proclaim it to all 
Europe. In truth, such a sneaking idea never entered my brain, 
and if it had, I would have spurned it as unworthy a moment's 
consideration. Besides, this would have been the very indirect, 
circuitous mode that Mr. Hamilton so deeply deplores. 

In page 37, another instance is given of my jealousy and 
suspicious disposition. The most open, unsuspicious man alive 
is a ccused of excessive suspcionj 

I transiently asked one of the heads of departments, whether 
Ellsworth and Hamilton had come all the way from Windsor 
and New York to persuade me to countermand the mission. 
How came Mr. Hamilton to be informed of this ? ^ 

I know of no motive of Mr. Ellsworth's journey. However, 
I have already acknowledged that Mr. Ellsw^orth's conduct was 
perfectly proper.^ He urged no influence or argument for 
counteracting or postponing the mission. 

Unsuspicious as I was, I could not resist the evidence of my 
senses. Hamilton, unasked, had volunteered his influence with 
all the arguments his genius could furnish, all the eloquence 
he possessed, and aU the vehemence of action his feeble frame 
could exert. He had only betrayed his want of information, 
and his ardent zeal to induce me to break my word and violate 
the faith of the government. I know of no business he had at 
Trenton. Indeed I knew, that in strict propriety he had no 
right to come to Trenton at all without my leave. He was 
stationed at Newark, in the command of his division of the 
army, where he ought to have been employed in accommodat- 
ing, disciplining, and teaching tactics to his troops, if he had 

' The question is now answered. The cabinet member disclosed it. Gibbs's 
Federal Administrations, vol. ii. pp. 397, 422. 

2 In the first drauj^ht is the following addition, — 

" Mr. Adams never suspected him to be in combination with Mr. Hamilton to 
endeavor to inlluence him in the affair of the mission." 

There is reason to believe that he was in combination at least with Mr. 
Pickering and Mr. Wolcott, ii" not Mr. Hamilton. 


been capable of it. He wisely left these things to another 
officer, who understood them better, but whom he hated for that 
very reason. 

I have no more to say upon this great subject. Indeed, I am 
weary of exposing puerilities that would disgrace the awkward- 
cst boy at college. 


Mr. Hamilton says, my "conduct in the office of President 
was a heterogeneous compound of right and wrong, of wis- 
dom and error." As at that time, in my opinion, his principal 
rule of right and wrong, of wisdom and error, was his own 
ambition and indelicate pleasures, I despise his censure, and 
should consider his approbation as a satire on my administra- 

" The outset," he says, "was distinguished by a speech which 
his friends lamented as temporizing. It had the air of a lure 
for the favor of his opponents at the expense of his sincerity." 
Until I read this, I never heard one objection to that speech ; 
and I have never heard another since, except in a letter from a 
lady, who said she did not like it, because there was but one 
period in it, and that period was too long. I fully agreed to 
that lady's opinion, and now thank her for her criticism. Since 
that time I have never heard nor read, except in Wood's His- 
tory, any objection or criticism. 

That address was dictated by the same spirit which produced 
my conference the next day with Mr. Jefferson, in which I pro- 
posed to him the idea of sending him to France, and the more 
serious thought of nominating Mr. Madison. It sprung from a 
very serious apprehension of danger to our country, and a sense 
of injustice to individuals, from that arbitrary and exclusive 
principle of faction which confines all employments and promo- 
tions to its own favorites. There is a distinction founded in 
truth and nature, between party and faction. The former is 
founded in principle and system, concerning the public good ; 
the latter in private interest and passions. An honest party 
man will never exclude talents and virtues, and qualities emi- 
nently useful to the public, merely on account of a difference in 


opinion. A factious man will exclude every man alike, saint 
or sinner, who will not be a blind, passive tool. If I had been 
allowed to follow my own ideas, Hamilton and Burr, in my 
opinion, wdth submission to Divine Providence, would have 
been alive at this hour; General Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania, 
would have been a Brigadier, under Hamilton, in the army, as 
long as it lasted ; and the great body of Germans in Pennsyl- 
vania, instead of being disgraced with imputations of rebellion, 
would have been good friends of government. I have not 
room to develop all this at present. 

But I soon found myself shackled. The heads of depart- 
ments were exclusive patriots. I could not name a man who 
was not devoted to Hamilton, without kindling a fire.^ The 
Senate was now decidedly federal. Daring President Washing- 
ton's whole administration of eight years, his authority in the 
Senate was extremely weak. The Senate was equally divided 
in all great constitutional questions, and in all great questions 
of foreign relations ; and such as were the most sharply con- 
tested were brought to my decision as Vice-President. When 
I was elected, the States had been pleased to make an entire 
change in the Senate. Two thirds of that honorable body were 
now decidedly federal. And prosperity had its usual effect on 
federal minds. It made them confident and presumptuous. I 
soon found that if I had not the previous consent of the heads 
of departments, and the approbation of Mr. Hamilton, I run the 
utmost risk of a dead negative in the Senate. One such nega- 
tive, at least, I had, after a very formal and a very uncivil 
remonstrance of one of their large, unconstitutional committees 
in secret. 

I have great reason to believe, thai Mr._JejEferson came into 
office wit h the same spirit that I did, that is, with a sincere 
desire of conciliating parties, as far as he possibly could, con- 

1 Mr. Stoddert, in a private letter, remonstrated against being classed in this 
manner. He expresses himself thus respecting Hamilton : 

"As to General Hamilton, I scarcely knew him ; and perhaps my crime as to 
him was, that though believing highly of the brilliancy of his talents, and of his 
sincere patriotism and honorable principles, I never entertained a very exalted 
opinion of his discretion or the soUdity of his judgment, and always thought it 
an unfortunate circumstance for the federal party, and of course, for the country, 
(for I believe the views of that party have always been directed to tlie best 
interests of the country) that the opinions of this gentleman were deemed so 

Mr. Stoddert did not become Secretary of the Navy unti l June, 1798. 

VOL. IX. 26 


sistently with his principles. But he soon found, as I did, that 
the Senate had a decided majority of republicans, five or six to 
one, a much greater majority than there was in my time of 
federalists, which was never more than two to one. 

In the House of Representatives, in Mr. Washington's time, 
the majority of federalists was very small. In my time, it was 
somewhat larger, but still small. In Mr. Jefferson's time, the 
majority of republicans was immense, two or three, or four, to 
one. Consciousness of this strength had the same effect upon 
republicans as it had upon the federalists in my time. It made 
them confident, exclusive, and presumptuous. Mr. Jefferson 
found it impossible, as I did, to follow his own inclination on 
many occasions. 

It may be thought presumption in me to impute errors to 
the nation ; but, as I have never concealed from the people any 
truth which it was important to them to know, nor any opinion 
of my own, which was material in public affairs, I hope to be 
excused if I suggest, that the general sentiment in most parts 
of the continent, that all the danger to liberty arises from the 
executive power, and that the President's office cannot be too 
much restrained, is an error. 

Corruption in almost all free governments has begun and 
been first introduced in the legislature. When any portion of 
executive power has been lodged in popular or aristocratical 
assemblies, it has seldom, if ever, failed to introduce intrigue. 
The executive powers lodged in the Senate are the most dan- 
gerous to the Constitution, and to liberty, of all the powers in it.^ 
The people, then, ought to consider the President's office as the 
indispensable guardian of their rights. I have ever, therefore, 
been of opinion, that the electors of President ought to be 
chosen by the people at large. The people cannot be too care- 
ful in the choice of their Presidents ; but when they have chosen 
them, they ought to expect that they will act their own inde- 
pendent judgments, and not be wheedled nor intimidated by 
factious combinations of senators, representatives, heads of de- 
partments, or military officers. 

The exclusive principle which has been adopted and too 
openly avowed by both our great divisions, when the pendulum 

^ The tendencies of the present day render this prediction worthy to be kept 
in mind. 


has swung to their side, is a principle of faction, and not of 
honest party. It is intolerance ! It is despotism ! It destroys the 
freedom of the press ! the freedom of elections ! the freedom of 
debate ! the freedom of deliberation ! the freedom of private 
judgment! And as long as the Senate shall be determined to 
negative all but their own party, the President can have no will 
or judgment of his own. I most earnestly entreat all parties to 
reconsider their resolutions on this subject. 


In page 29, Mr. Hamilton says, " When an ordinary man 
dreams himself to be a Frederick," &c. 

To this I shall make but a short answer. When a Miss of 
the street shall print a pamphlet in London, and call the Queen 
of England an ordinary woman who dreams herself a Catharine 
of Russia, no Englishman will have the less esteem for his queen 
for that impudent libel. 

There is something in the 24th page of a graver complexion. 
It is said, that " the session which ensued the promulgation of 
the despatches of our commissioners was about to commence." 
This was the session of 1798. " Mr. Adams arrived at Phila- 
delphia. The tone of his mind seemed to have been raised." 

Let me ask a candid public, how did Mr. Hamilton know any 
thing of the tone of Mr. Adams's mind, either before or at that 
conference? To make the comparison, he must have known 
the state of Mr. Adams's mind at both these periods. He had 
never conversed with Mr. Adams before, nor was he present at 
that conference. Who was the musician that took the pitch of 
Mr. Adams's mind, at the two moments here compared to- 
gether? And what was the musical instrument, or whose 
exquisite car was it, that ascertained so nicely the vibrations of 
the air, and Mr. Adams's sensibility to them? Had Mr. Ha- 
milton a spy in the cabinet, who transmitted to him, from day 
to day, the confidential communications between the President 
and heads of department ? If there existed such a spy, why 
might he not communicate these conferences to Mr. Liston, or 
the Marquis Yrujo, as well as to Mr. Hamilton ? He had as 
clear a right. I believe that all the privy counsellors of the 


world but our own are under an oath of secrecy ; and ours 
ought to be. But as they are not, their own honor and sense 
of propriety ought, with them, to be obligations as sacred as an 

The truth is, I had arrived at Philadelphia from a long jour- 
ney, which had been delayed longer than I intended, very much 
fatigued ; and as no time was to be lost, I sent for the heads of 
departments to consult, in the evening, upon the points to be 
inserted in the speech to Congress, who were soon to meet. 

My intention was, in the language of the lawyers, merely to 
break the questions, or meet the points necessary for us to con- 
sider ; not intending to express any opinion of my own, or to 
request any opinion of theirs upon any point; but merely to 
take the questions into their consideration, and give me their 
advice upon all of them at a future meeting. 

I observed that I found, by various sources of information, 
and particularly by some of the newspapers in Boston and New 
York, that there was a party who expected an unqualified re- 
commendation of a declaration of war as^ainst France. 

These paragraphs, I was well satisfied, were written by gen- 
tlemen who were in the confidence and correspondence of Ha- 
milton, and one of the heads of departments at least, though I 
gave them no intimation of this. 

I said to the gentlemen, that 1 supposed it would be expected 
of us, that we should consider this question, and be able to give 
our reasons for the determination, whatever it might be. 

The conduct of the gentlemen upon this question was such 
as I wished it to be upon all the others. No one of them gave 
an opinion either for or against a declaration of ^var. There 
was something, however, in the total silence and reserve of all 
of them, and in the countenances of some, that appeared to me 
to be the effect of disappointment. It seemed to me, that they 
expected I should have proposed a declaration of war, and only 
asked their advice to sanction it. However, not a word was 

That there was a disappointment, however, in Hamilton and 
his friends, is apparent enough from this consideration, that 

1 All this is now cleared up by Mr. Gibbs, and by the works of Mr. Hamilton. 
The information furnished by three of the cabinet ministers seems to have been 
continuous and complete. 


when it was known that a declaration of war was not to be 
recommended in the President's speech, a caucus was called of 
memb ers of Congress, to see if they could not get a vote for a 
declarati on of war, without any recommendation from the Pre- 
sident, as they had voted the alien and sedition law, and the 
army.^ What passed in that caucus, and how much zeal there 
was in some, and who they were. Judge Sewall can tell better 
than I. All that I shall say is, that Mr. Hamilton's friends 
could not carry the vote.^ 

My second proposition to the heads of departments was to 
consider, in case we should determine against a declaration of 
war, what was the state of our relations with France, and 
whether any further attempt at negotiation should be made. 

Instead of the silence and reserve with which my first question 
was received, Mr. Hamilton shall relate what was said. 

Mr. Hamilton says, " It was suggested to him (Mr. Adams) 
that it might be expedient to insert in the speech a sentiment 
of this import ; that, after the repeatedly rejected advances of 
this country, its dignity required that it should be left with 
France in future to make the first overture ; that if, desirous of 
reconciliation, she should evince the disposition by sending a 
minister to this government, he would be received with the 
respect due to his character, and treated with in the frankness 
of a sincere desire of accommodation. The suggestion was 
received in a manner both indignant and intemperate." 

I demand again, how did Mr. Hamilton obtain this informa- 
tion? Had he a spy in the cabinet? If he had, I own I had 

1 In the fragment of 1801, it is said, — 

" The truth is that at a private meeting of the federalists in Congress the 
question was considered, but a majoi'ity were against a declaration of war. This 
question was debated with heat, and here began, some time before the nomina- 
tion of Mr. Murray to France, the serious schism. The minority who urged a 
declaration of war were outrageous when they found the President apparently 
fall in with the judgment of the majority." 

2 Mr. Stoddert in his private letter considers the result of this caucus as 
having been decisive of the policy of the country. He says ; — 

"A majority of a caucus composed entirely of federal members of the two 
Houses, would not agree to a declaration of war ; and the result of that meeting 
showed too plainly to be mistaken by the President, that it was his duty to avail 
himself of the first fair opportunity that presented, for seeking reconciliation 
without debasement. The democratic party certainly was averse to war with 
France ; so Avas the federal party, if war could be avoided without dishonor. 
In this view of the subject, and to my understanding it is the true one, I cannot 
conceive how you could have avoided instituting a negotiation, on the receipt 
of Mr. Murray's letter." 

26* T 


rather that all the courts in Europe should have had spies there ; 
for they could have done no harm by any true information they 
could have obtained there ; whereas Hamilton has been able to 
do a great deal of mischief by the pretended information he 
has published.! 

It is very true, that I thought this proposition intended to 
close the avenues to peace, and to ensure a war with France ; 
for I did believe that some of the heads of departments were 
confident, in their own minds, that France would not send a 
minister here. 

From the intimate intercourse between Hamilton and some 
of the heads of departments, which is demonstrated to the 
world and to posterity by this pamphlet, I now appeal to every 
candid and impartial man, whether there is not reason to sus- 
pect and to believe, whether there is not a presumption, a violent 
presumption, that Hamilton himself had furnished this machine 
to his correspondent in the cabinet,^ for the very purpose of 
ensnaring me, at unawares, of ensuring a war with France, and 
enabling him to mount his hobby-horse, the command of an 
army of fifty thousand, ten thousand of them to be horse. 

Hamilton says, " the suggestion was received in a manner 
both indignant and intemperate." This is false. It is true, it 
was urged with so much obstinacy, perseverance, and inde- 
cency, not to say intemperance, that at last I declared I would 
not adopt it, in clear and strong terms.^ 

1 The information was furnislied b y O. W olcott, Secretary of the Treasury, 
whom Mr. Adams never suspected. Mr. Hamilton states this explicitly in a 
letter published in Mr. Gibbs's book, vol. ii. p. 422. It is not in Hamilton's 

- The fact seems to be admitted by Mr. Gibbs in his late Avork, vol. ii. p. 18G. 

^ This appears more in detail in the earlier fragment. 

" The truth must be told. There were some in America, though but a few, 
among Mr. Hamilton's friends in Boston especially, who were desirous the 
President in his speech should recommend to Congress an immediate declara- 
tion of war. This question was considered by the President and heads of 
department in seci-et. Some things were said, but no clear opinion, that is 
remembered, expressed by any one. The President, after some time, made an 
observation or two unnecessary to be repeated, wliich discovered the tendency 
of his opinion, and all the heads of department acquiesced in the conclusion to 
leave the subject wholly out of the address. A proposition was then made, the 
words of which are not remembered, but the substance was a commitment of the 
President to a declaration that he would send no more ministers to France. 
The President was decidedly against this, and declared he would not commit 
himself. The proposition was not received in any manner, either indignant or 
intemperate. The manner in which it was urged, repeated, and insisted on, 
was so indecent, that at last Mr. Adams expressed his ultimate determination in 


Mr. Hamilton says, " Mr. Adams declared, as a sentiment he 
had adopted on mature reflection, that if France should send a 
minister here to-morrow, he would order him back the day after." 

Here I ask again, where, how, and from whom did he get 
this information. Was it from his spy in the cabinet? Or 
was it the fabrication of his own " sublimated, eccenti'ic," ^ and 
intemperate imagination ? In either case, it is an entire mis- 

I said that, when in my retirement at Quincy, the idea of the 
French government sending a minister here had sometimes 
occurred to me, my first thoughts were, that I would send him 
back the next day after his arrival, as a retaliation for their 
sending ours back; and because the affront offered to us had 
been at Paris, publicly, in the face of all Europe, the atonement 
ought to be upon the same theatre ; and because, as the French 
government had publicly and officially declared that they would 

strong terms. ]\Ir. Adams observed, that when the idea of the French sending 
a minister here was first made public, as it had been by Dr. Logan, Mr. Barlow, 
and many others, his first fijelings were against receiving him. He thought, 
as the insult had been oiTered in Paris, the reparation ought to be in Paris ; that 
Europe, which had witnessed the afl'ront, should also witness the apology. He 
further mentioned the inconveniences which would arise from conducting the 
negotiation at Philadelphia. Nothing could be kept secret ; the French would 
let out what they pleased. Our Jacobins would be clamorous and insolent, 
taking the part of the French minister against their own government, as they 
had done in Mv. Washington's time. Considering all those things, Mr. Adams 
said his first thought was, that if a French minister arrived, he should be I'cjected, 
as Mr. Pinckney had been ; but upon further reflection he did not see how it 
could be reconciled to principles, for the right of embassy ought to be respected 
even in time of war. His ultimate determination, therefore, was to leave the 
door wide open for negotiation. Accordingly, he inserted in his speech these 
words : ' It is peace that we have uniformly and perseveinngly cultivated, and 
harmony between us and France may be restored at her option. But to send 
another minister without more determinate assurances that he would be received, 
would be an act of humiliation to which the United States ought not to submit. 
It must, therefore, be left with France, if she is indeed desirous of acconnnoda- 
tion, to take the requisite steps. The United States will steadily observe the 
maxims by which they have been hitherto governed. They will respect the 
sacred right of embassy.' This is the paragraph which Avas ultimately inserted, 
and Mr. Adams's resolution in support of it has had the most happy and im- 
portant effects ; and every man in the cabinet who opposed it, ought now, instead 
of boasting of his error, to be ashamed of it." 

1 It is a curious fact, that one of his own friends, Gouverneur Morris, should, 
in substance, aflirm the same thing of Mr. Hamilton himself, which he affirmed 
both of INIr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson. 

" Our poor friend Hamilton bestrode his hobby to the great annoyance of his 
friends, and not without injury to himself More a theoretic than a practical 
man, he was not sufficiently convinced that a system may be good in itself, and 
bad in relation to particular circumstances." Life of G. Morris, vol. iii. p. 216. 


receive no minister plenijDotcntiary from the United States until 
the President had made apologies for his speeches and answers 
to addresses, they ought to be made to retract and take back 
that rash declaration on the same spot where it had been made. 
They might send a minister here consistently with that offensive 
declaration. This was my first thought; but upon mature 
reflection I saw that this would not be justifiable ; for to retaliate 
one breach of principle by another breach of principle, was 
neither the morality nor the policy that had been taught me by 
my father and my tutors. Our principle was, that the right of 
embassy was sacred. I would therefore sacredly respect it, if 
they sent a minister here. But I would not foreclose myself 
from sending a minister to France, if I saw an opening for it 
consistent with our honor; in short, that I would leave both 
doors and all doors wide open for a negotiation. All this 
refutation came from myself, not from the heads of depart- 

All that he says in this place and in the beginning of the 
next page, of my wavering, is false. My mind never underwent 
any revolution or alteration at all, after I left Quincy. I inserted 
no declaration in my speech, that I would not send a minister 
to France, nor any declaration that, if France would give assur- 
ances of receiving a minister from this country, I would send 
one. Nothing like that declaration was ever made, except in 
my message to Congress, of the 21st of June, 1798, in these 
words : " I will never send another minister to France, without 
assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored, as 
the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent 
nation." This declaration finally effected the peace.^ 

' From the draught of 1801 : 

" The measure, fi-om its inception, was never determined on by considerations 
of war or peace, prosperity or adversity to any of the powers at war in Europe. 
Mr. Adams, in all his administration, has considered his country as a sovereign, 
and her affairs as insulated. Peace to America, if attainable on safe and honor- 
able terms, whether war or peace, triumphs or defeats in Europe. Humiliations 
and reverses in France, Mr. Adams thought, if they were to have any considera- 
tion at all, ought rather to accelei'ate than retard the measures of reconciliation, 
because they ought to be imputed to generous motives rather than to mean 
ones, and because he had observed, that great successes had produced an intoxi- 
cating effect upon all the belligerent nations in succession. 

Mr. Adams desires nothing more than to have the expediency of the measure 
tested by the state of things, when it had its inception, when the foundation was 
laid for it in the speech, when Mr. Murray was nominated, and when the envoys 


Both the doors of negotiation were left open. The French 
might send a minister here without conditions ; we might send 
one to France upon condition of a certainty that he would be 
received in character. 

What conduct did the French government hold in conse- 
quence of this declaration ? They retracted their solemn and 
official declaration, that they would receive no minister pleni- 
potentiary, in future, from the United States, without apologies 
from the President for his speeches and answers to addresses. 
They withdrew, and expressly disavowed, all claims of loans 
and d ouceurs, which had been held up in a very high tone. 
They even gave encouragement, I might say they promised, to 
make provision for an equitable compensation for spoliations. 
They promised to receive our ministers, and they did receive 
them, and made peace with them, — a peace that completely 
accomplished a predominant wish of my heart for five-and- 
twenty years before, which was to place our relations with 
France and with Great Britain upon a footing of equality and 
impartiality, that we might be able to preserve, in future, an 
everlasting neu trality in all the wars of Europe. 

I see now with great pleasure, that England professes to 
acknowledge and adopt this our principle of impartiality, and I 
hope that France will soon adopt it too. The two powers 
ought to see, that it is the only principle we can adopt with 
safety to ourselves or justice to them. If this is an error, it is 
an error in which I have been invariably and unchangeably fixed 
for five-and-thirty years, in the whole course of which I have 
never seen reason to suspect it to be an error, and I now de- 
spair of ever discovering any such reasons. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Hamilton calls the declaration that accom- 
plished all this " a pernicious declaration ! " 

Pernicious it was to his views of ambition and domination. 
It extinguished his hopes of being at the head of a victorious 

sailed. If it was not justified then, it never can be justified, -whatever may have 
been its success for Mr. Adams admires the sentiment — 

' Careat successibus opto 
Quisquis ab eventu facta notanda putat.' 

Upon the coolest review and reexamination, he thinks it the wisest action of 
his life, and, as he knew the pains that would be taken to defeat it and to render 
it unpopular, it was the most resolute and the most disinterested." 


army of fifty thousand men, without which, he used to say, he 
had no idea of having a head upon his shoulders for four years 

Thus it is, when self-sufficient ignorance impertinently ob- 
trudes itself into offices and departments, in which it has no 
right, nor color, nor pretence to interfere. 

Thus it is, when ambition undertakes to sacrifice all charac- 
ters, and the peace of nations, to its own private interest. 

I have now finished all I had to say on the negotiations and 
peace with France in 1800. 

In the mean time, when I look back on the opposition and 
embarrassments I had to overcome, from the faction of British 
subjects, from that large body of Americans who revere the 
English and abhor the French, from some of the heads of de- 
partments, from so many gentlemen in Senate, and so many 
more in the House of Representatives, and from the insidious 
and dark intrigues as well as open remonstrances of Mr. Hamil- 
ton, I am astonished at the event. 

In some of my jocular moments I have compared myself to 
an animal I have seen take hold of the end of a cord with 
his teeth, and be drawn slowly up by puUies, through a storm 
of squibs, crackers, and rockets, flashing and blazing round him 
every moment; and though the scorching flames made him 
groan, and mourn, and roar, he would not let go his hold till he 
had reached the ceiling of a lofty theatre, where he hung some 
time, still suffering a flight of rockets, and at last descended 
through another storm of burning powder, and never let go till 
his four feet were safely landed on the floor. 

In some of my social hours I have quoted Virgil : 

Fata ohstant, placidasqtie viri Deus ohstruit awes. 
Ac velut, annoso validam cum robore quercum 
Alpini Borece nunc Mnc nuncjlaiibus illinc 
Eruere inter se certant; it stridor ; et alte 
Consternunt terram concusso stipite frondes ; 
Ipsa Jiceret scopulis ; et quantum vertice ad auras 
yEtherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit ; 
Haud secus assiduis Mnc atque Mnc vocibus heros 
Tunditur, et magno persentit pectore curas. 
Mens immota manet; lacrimce volvuntur inanes. 

Lib. 4. 440. 


His hardened heart nor prayers nor threatenlngs move ; 
Fate and the Gods had stopp'd his ears .... 
As when the winds their airy quarrel try, 
Justling from every quarter of the sky ; 
This way and that the mountain oak they bend, 
His boughs they shatter, and his branches rend ; 
With leaves and falHng mast they spread the ground. 
Tlie hollow vallies to the echo sound ; 
' Unmov'd, the sturdy plant their fury mocks. 
Or shaken, clings more closely to the rocks ; 
Far as he shoots his towering head on high, 
So deep in earth his deep foundations lie ; 
No less a storm the Trojan hero bears ; 
Thick messages and loud complaints he hears, 
And bandied words still beating on his ears. 
Sighs, groans, and tears, proclaim his inward pains, 
But the firm purpose of his heart remains. 

Dryden, B. 4. 636. 

But this is all levity. There have been sober hours, not a 
few; and I know not that there has been one in which I have 
not adored that providence of Almighty God, which alone could 
have carried me safely through, to a successful issue, this trans- 
action, and so many others equally difficult, and infinitely more 
dangerous to my life, if not to my reputation. 

Quincy, 10 June, 1809. 






This letter, in the date of its publication in the Boston Patriot , preced es those 
which have gone before. It was subsequently published in a pamphlet with the 
above title. It is placed in this order, because it is connected with the history 
of later events. 

The difficulties with Great Britain, which led to the adoption of the act ofjm- 
bargo, of 1808, by; the Congress of the United States, incidentally opened a new 
subject of difference between Mr. Pickering and Mr. Adams. Mr. Pickering 
was then a senator of the United States from Massachusetts, and in that capacity 
published, in the form of a letter addressed to Governor Sullivan, an appeal to the 
people of the State against that measure. In the course of it he alluded to the 
proclamation of the King of England, which constituted one great cause of diffi- 
culty, in the terms which arc quoted, and which form the text of the following 
paper. The letter of the 26th of December, alluded to at the commencement, 
was addressed to J. B. Varnum, then a member of the House of Representatives 
from Massachusetts. It may be found in the general correspondence. 

Quincy, 9 January, 1809. 

In my letter of the 26th of December, it was remarked that 
the proclamation for pressing seamen from our merchant ships 
had not been sufficiently reprobated. Some of the reasons 


for that opinion will be found in the following commentaries, 
which were written for private amusement, within a few days 
after the appearance in public of this 


"T/<e proclamation of the King- of Great Britain, requiring" 
the return of his subjects, the seamen especially, from foreign 
countries, to aid in this hour of peculiar danger, in defence of 
their own .... 

^^But it being an acknoivledged principle, that every nation has 
a right to the service of its subjects in time of war, that procla- 
mation could not furnish the slightest ground for an embargo.'''' 

This partial description has a tendency to deceive many, and 
no doubt has deceived thousands. It is concealing the asp in a 
basket of Jigs. The dangerous, alarming, and fatal part of the 
proclamation is kept carefully out of sight. 

Proclamations of one kind are of immemorial usage; but the 
present one is the first of the kind. Proclamations of the first 
kind, issued usually in the beginning of a war, are in effect but 
simple invita tions to subjects, who happen to be abroad, to return 
home. To deny the right of the king to issue them, would be as 
unreasonable as to deny his right to send a card of invitation to 
one of his subjects to dine with him on St. George's day ; but 
in neither case is the subject bound by law to accept the invi- 
tation. As it is natural to every human mind to sympathize 
with its native country when in distress or danger, it is well 
known that considerable numbers of British commonly return 
home from various foreign countries, in consequence of these 
invitations by proclamation. The British ambassadors, con- 
suls, agents, governors, and other officers give the proclamations 
a general circulation, stimulate the people to return, and con- 
trive many means to encourage and facilitate their passages. 
All this is very well. All this is within the rules of modesty, 
decency, law, and justice. No reasonable man will object to it. 
But none of these proclamations, till this last, ever asserted a_ 
_right to take British subjects, by force, from the ships of foreign 
nations,^ny more than from the cities and provinces of foreign 
nations. On the other hand, it is equally clear, that British 
subjects in foreign countries are under no indispensable obliga- 
tion of religion, morality, law, or policy, to return, in compliance 

VOL. IX. '-< 


with such proclamations. No penalty is annexed by English 
laws to any neglect; no, nor to any direct or formal disobe- 
dience. Hundreds, in fact, do neglect and disobey the procla- 
mations, to one who complies with them. Thousands who have 
formed establishments and settled families, or become natural- 
ized, or made contracts, or enlisted on board merchant ships, or 
even ships of war, in foreign countries, pay no regard to these 
orders or invitations of their former sovereign. Indeed, all who 
have become naturalized in foreign countries, or entered into 
contracts of any kind, public or private, with governments or 
merchants, farmers or manufacturers, have no right to return 
until they have fulfilled their covenants and obligations. The 
President of the United States has as legal authority to issue 
similar proclamations, and they would be as much respected by 
American citizens all over the globe. But every American 
would say his compliance was voluntary, and none, whose en- 
gagements abroad were incompatible with compliance, would 

But " it is an acknowledged principle, that every nation has 
a right to the service of its subjects in time of war." By whom 
is this principle acknowledged? By no man, I believe, in the 
unlimited sense in which it is here asserted. With certain quali- 
fications and restrictions it may be admitted. Within the realm 
and in his own dominions the king has a right to the service of 
his subjects, at sea and on land, by voluntary enlistments, and 
to send them abroad on foreign voyages, expeditions, and enter- 
prises ; but it would be difficult to prove the right of any exe- 
cutive authority of a free people to compel free subjects into 
service by conscriptions or impressments, like galley-slaves, at 
the point of the bayonet, or before the mouths of field artillery. 
Extreme cases and imperious necessity, it is said, have no laws ; 
but such extremities and necessity must be very obvious to the 
whole nation, or freemen will not comply. Impressments of 
seamen from British merchantmen, in port or at sea, are no 
better than the conscriptions of soldiers by Napoleon, or Louis 
XIV. who set him the example. 

So much for that part of the proclamation, which the text 
produces to public view. Now for the other part, which it has 
artfully concealed. The king not only commands his subjects to 
return, but he commands the o fficers of his navy to search the_ 


merchant ships of neutrals (meaning Americans, for it is not ap- 
plicable to any others, nor intended to be applied to any others,) 
and imp ress a ll B ritish sea men they find on board, without re- 
gard to any allegations of naturalization ; without regard to any 
certificates of citizenship ; without regard to any contracts, cove- 
nants, or connections they have formed with captains or owners; 
and without regard to any marriages, families, or children they 
may have in America. And in what principle or law is this 
founded? Is there any law of God to support it? Is there 
any law of nature to justify it? Is there any law of England 
to authorize it? Certainly not. The laws o f England have no 
bindin g force on b oard American ships, more than the laws of 
China or Japan. The laws of the United States alone, of which 
the law of nations is a part, have dominion over our merchant 
ships. In what law, then, is it grounded? In the law of na- 
tions ? It is a counterfeit foisted into that law, by this arbitrary, 
fraudulent proclam ation, for the first time. Such a title, as 
Impressment of Seamen, was never found in any code of laws, 
since the first canoe was launched into the sea ; not even in 
that of England. Whoever claims a right, must prodvice a law 
to support it. But this proclamation attempts to transfer a 
preten ded right of iiTipressing seamen from their own ships, 
which, in truth, is only an enormous abuse, to the impressment 
of seamen from foreign nations, foreign ships, and foreign sub- 
jects. The horror of this gross attempt, this affront to our 
understandings as well as feelings, this contempt of our natural 
and national resentment of injuries, as well as of our sympathies 
with fellow-citizens and fellow-creatures, suffering the vilest 
oppression under inhumanity and cruelty, could never have 
appeared in the world, had not the spirits of Lord Bute and 
Lord George Germaine risen again at St. James's. 

It is in vain for the Britons to say, these men are the king's 
subjects. How are the y the king's subjects ? By British laws. 
And what are the British laws to us, on the high seas ? No 
more than the laws of Otaheite. We Americans must say, they 
are our fellow-citizens by our laws. They have sworn alle- 
giance to the United States. We have admitted them to all 
the rights and privileges of American citizens, and by this ad- 
mission have contracted with them to support and defend them 
in the enjoyment of all such rights. Our laws acknowledge no 


divine right of kings greater than those of subjects, nor any 
indefeasible duty of subjects, more than that of kings, to obe- 
dience. These remnants of feudal tyranny and ecclesias- 
tical superstition have been long since exploded in America. 
The king claims them, to make them slaves. The Presi- 
dent of the United States claims them, as it is his duty to do, 
by his office and his oath, not to enslave them, but to protect 
them and preserve them free. Our laws are as good as Bri- 
tish laws. Our citizens have as good a right to protection 
as British subjects, and our government is as much bound to 
afford it. 

What is impressment of seamen ? It is no better than 
what the civilians call plagiat, a crime punishable with death 
by all civilized nations, as one of the most audacious and 
punishable offences against society. It was so considered 
among the Hebrews. " H e that stealeth a man and selletj]_ 
him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put 
to death." Exodus xxi. 16. " If a man be found stealing 
any of his brethren, then that thief shall die." Deuteronomy 
xxiv. 7. The laws of Athens, like those of the Hebrews, con- 
demned the plagiary or man-stealer to death ; and the laws 
of Rome pronounced the same judgment against the same out- 
rage. But to descend from the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans 
to the British ; what is the impressment of seamen in England, 
by their own laws, in their own ports, from their own ships 
within the four seas, or anywhere on the high seas ? It is said 
to be an usage. So were ship-money, loans, and benevolences 
in the reign of Charles the First ; and arguments were used by 
his courtiers to prove their legality, as plausible and conclusive 
as any that have been produced by Judge Foster in favor of 
impressment. It is at best but an abuse, subsisting only by 
toleration and connivance, likejt-he^ practice J_n_Holland of kid- 
nappin g]^ men for settlers or servants in Batavia. It is in direct 
contradiction and violation of every principle of English liberty. 
It is a direct violation of Magna Charta, and the fifty-five con- 
firmations of it in parliament, and a bold defiance of all the 
ecclesiastical execrations against the violators of it. It is in 
direct violation of all their other statutes, bills, and petitions of 
right, as well as the Habeas Corpus Act. It deprives free sub- 
jects of their liberty, property, and often of their lives, without 


alleging or pretending any accusation against them of any 
crime or fault. It deprives them of the trial by jury, and subjects 
them to scourges and death by martial law and the judgments 
of courts-martial. It is a kind of civil war ma de upon inno- 
cent, unoffendin g subjects. It is said that in a general impress- 
ment, like that of Admiral Keppell, it cost the nation, in cutters, 
luggers, press-gangs, and it might have been added, Nanny- 
houses and rendezvous of debauchery and con'uption, a hun- 
dred pounds for every man they obtained. The practice is not 
avowed or acknowledged by the nation. No parliament ever 
dared to legitimate or sanction it. No court of law ever dared 
to give a judgment in favor of it. No judge or lawyer that 
ever I heard of, till Foster, ever ventured to give a private opi- 
nion to encourage it. 

Thurlow, when he was Chancellor, hazarded a saying to a 
committee of the city of London, that the practice of impress- 
ment of seamen was legal ; but the committee answered him 
respectfully, but firmly, though in the presence of the king in 
council — " We acknowledge the high authority of your lord- 
ship's opinion, but we must declare that we are of a very differ- 
ent opinion ; " and their answer appeared to be applauded by 
the nation. Press-gangs are continually opposed and resisted 
at sea by the sailors, whenever they have the means or the least 
hope of escaping. Navy officers and men are sometimes killed, 
and there is no inquisition for their blood. As little noise as 
possible is made about it. It is known to be justifiable homi- 
cide to take the life of an assailant in the necessary defence of 
a man's liberty. There is not a jury in England who would 
find a verdict of murder or manslaughter against any sailor, on 
land or at sea, who should kill any o ne of a pre ss-gang in the 
necessary defence of his liberty from impressment. Press-gangs 
on shore are often resisted by the people, fired on, some of them 
wounded and sometimes killed. Yet no inquisition is made for 
this. The practice is held in abhorrence by the men-of-war' s- 
men themselves. The b oatsw ain of the Rose frigate, after the 
acquittal of the four Irish sailors, who were prosecuted in a 
special court of admiralty at Boston, for killing a gallant and 
amiable officer. Lieutenant Panton, said, " This is a kind of 
work in which I have been almost constantly engaged for 
twenty years, i. c, in fighting with honest sailors, to deprive 


them of their liberty. I always suspected that I oaght to be 
hanged for it, but now I know it." 

Since I have alluded to this case, it may not be amiss to 
recollect some other circumstances of it. A press-gang from 
the Rose, commanded by Lieutenant Panton, with a midship- 
man and a number of ordinary seamen, visited and searched 
a merchant-ship from Marbleheadj belonging to Mr. Hooper, 
at sea. The lieutenant inquired if any English, Irish, or 
Scotchmen were on board. Not satisfied with the answer 
he received, he prepared to search the ship from stem to 
stern. At last he found four Irishmen retired and concealed 
in the forepeak. With swords and pistols he immediately 
laid siege to the inclosure, and summoned the men to sur- 
render. Corbet, who had the cool intrepidity of a Nelson, 
reasoned, remonstrated, and laid down the law with the preci- 
sion of a Mansfield. " I know who you are. You are the 
lieutenant of a man-of-war, come with a press-gang to deprive 
me of my liberty. You have no right to impress me. I have 
retreated from you as far as I can. I can go no farther. I and 
my companions are determined to stand upon our defence. 
Stand off." The sailors within and without employed their usual 
language to each other, and a midshipman, in the confusion, 
fired a pistol into the forepeak, and broke an arm of one of the 
four. Corbet, who stood at the entrance, was engaged in a 
contest of menaces and defiances with the lieutenant. He re- 
peated what he had before said, and marking a line with a har- 
poon in the salt, with which the ship was loaded, said, " You 
are determined to deprive me of my liberty, and I am deter- 
mined to defend it. If you step over that line, I shall con- 
sider it as a proof that you are determined to impress me, 
and by the eternal God of Heaven, you are a dead man." "Aye, 
my lad," said the lieutenant, " I have seen many a brave fellow 
before now." Taking his snufl-box out of his pocket, and tak- 
ing a pinch of snuff, he very deliberately stepped over the line, 
and attempted to seize Corbet. The latter, drawing back his 
arm, and driving his harpoon with all his force, cut off the carotid 
artery and jugular vein, and laid the lieutenant dead at his feet. 
The Rose sent a reenforcement to the press-gang. They broke 
down the bulk-head, and seized the four Irishmen, and brought 
them to trial for piracy and murder. The court consisted of 


Governor Bernard, Governor Wentworth, Chief Justice Hutch- 
inson, Judge Auchmuty, Commodore Hood himself, who then 
commanded all the ships of war on the station, now a peer of 
the British empire, and twelve or fifteen others, counsellors of 
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. After the 
trial, the President, Governor Bernard, pronounced the judg- 
ment of the court, that the act of the prisoners was justifiable 
homicide, and in this opinion the whole court was unanimous.^ 
The sailor who was wounded in the arm, brought an action 
against the midshipman, and Commodore Hood himself inter- 
posed and made compensation to the sailor, to his satisfaction, 
after which the action was withdrawn. Such was the impress- 
ment of seamen, as it stood, by law, before our revolution. 
The author of my text, then, carries his courtly complaisance 
to the English government, farther than the Governors Bernard 
and Hutchinson, and even than Lord Hood carried it, when we 
were a part of the British empire. He thinks, that, as every 
nation has a right to the service of its subjects, in time of war, 
the proclamation of the King of Great Britain, commanding 
his naval officers to practise such impressments on board, not 
the vessels of his own subjects, but of the United States, a 
foreign nation, could not furnish the slightest ground for an 
embargo ! It is not necessary for me to say, that any thing 
could furnish a sufficient ground for an embargo, for any long 
time ; this, I leave to the responsibility of our President, sena- 
tors, and representatives in Congress. But, I say, with confi- 
dence, that it furnished a sufficient grouiid J'o_r a declaration of _ 
war. Not the murder of Pierce, nor all the murders on board 
the Chesapeake, nor all the other injuries and insults we have 
received from foreign nations, atrocious as they have been, can 
be of such dangerous, lasting, and pernicious consequence to 
this country, as this proclamation, if we have servility enough 
to submit to it. 

What would the author of my text have advised ? Would he 
counsel the President to stipulate, in a treaty with Great Britain, 
that his navy officers should forever hereafter have a right to 
visit and search all American merchant-ships, and impress from 
them all English, Scotch, and Irish seamen? Will he be so 

1 Compare this account with that given by Hutchinson in the tliird volume 
of his History, since published, p. 231, likewise with the reflections in the 
Diary, vol. ii. of this work, p. 224 - 226, also the note and the appendix B. 


good as to explain the distinc tion between ships of war and 
merchant-ships ? Are not merchant-ships under the jurisdiction 
and entitled to the protection of the laws of their country upon 
the high seas as much as ships of war? Is not a merchant-ship 
as much the territory of the United States as a ship of war ? 
Would the author of my text advise the President and Congress 
to acquiesce, in silence, under this proclamation, and permit it 
to be executed forever hereafter ? Would not such a tame and 
silent acquiescence as effectually yield the point, and establish 
the practice, if not the law, as an express stipulation in a solemn 
treaty ? If the United States had as powerful a navy as Great 
Britain, and Great Britain as feeble a force at sea as ours, 
would he advise the President either to concede the principle 
by treaty, or acquiesce in it in silence ? Does the circumstance 
of great power or great weakness make any alteration in the 
principle or the right ? Should the captain or crew of an Ame- 
rican merchant-man resist a British press-gang on the high seas, 
and, in defence of their liberty, kill the commander and all under 
him, and then make their escape, and after returning to Salem 
be prosecuted, would the writer of my text, as a judge or a juror, 
give his judgment for finding them guilty of murder or piracy? 

Although t he embargo was made the watchword in our late 
elections, the votes, in our greatest nurseries of seamen, for 
example, in Salem, in Marblehead, in Barnstable, Sandwich, 
and other places on Cape Cod, in Nantucket, and the Vineyard, 
and other places, seemed to show, that our seam en preferred to 
be embarg'oed rather than go to sea to be impressed. 

No doubt it will be said, that we have nothing to do with the 
question in England concerning the legality or illegality of im- 
pressments. This, as long as they confine the law and the 
practice to their own territory, to their own ships, and their own 
seamen, is readily acknowledged. W^e shall leave them to 
justify their own usage, whether it is a mere abuse or a legiti- 
mate custom, to their own consciences, to their own sense of 
equity, humanity, or policy. But when they arrogate a right, 
and presume in fact, to transfer their usurpation to foreign na- 
tions, or rather to Americans, whom they presume to distinguish 
from all other foreign nations, it becomes the interest, the right, 
and the indispensable duty of our government to inquire into 
the nefarious nature of it in England, in order to expose the 


greater turpitude of it when transferred to us, as well as to 
oppose and resist it to the utmost of their power; and it is 
equally the duty of , the people to support their government in 
such opposition to the last extremity. 

Permit me now to inquire, what will be the effects of an 
established law and practice of British impressments of seamen 
from American ships, upon the commerce, the navigation, and 
the peace of the United States, and, above all, upon the hearts 
and minds of our seamen. 

In considering those innumerable dangers, from winds and 
seas, rocks and shoals, to which all ships are exposed in their 
voyages, the owner and master must sit down together in order 
to determine the number of seamen necessary for the voyage. 
They must calculate the chances of impressment, and engage a 
supernumerary list of sailors, that they may be able to spare as 
many as the British lieutenant shall please to take, and have 
enough left to secure the safety of the ship and cargo, and 
above all, the lives of the master and crew. They know not 
how many British ships of war they may meet, nor how many 
sailors the conscience of each lieutenant may allow him to im- 
press. For the lieutenant is to be judge, jury, sheriff, and 
gaoler, to every seaman in American vessels. He is to try 
many important questions of law and of fact; whether the 
sailor is a native of America ; whether he has been lawfully 
naturalized in America ; whether he is an Englishman, Scotch- 
man, or Irishman ; whether he emigrated to America before the 
revolution or since. Indeed, no evidence is to be admitted of 
any naturalization by our laws, in any of the States since the 
revolution, if before. In truth, the doctrine of the inherent and 
indefeasible duty of allegiance is asserted so peremptorily in the 
proclamation, that the lieutenant may think it his duty to im- 
press every man who was born in the British dominions. It 
may be the opinion of this learned judge, that the connection 
between the king and subject is so sacred and divine, that alle- 
giance cannot be dissolved by any treaty the king has made, or 
even by any act of parliament. And this pious sentiment may 
subject us all to impressment at once. This, however, en passant. 

The lieutenant is to order the captain of the merchant-man 
to lay before him a list of his crew; he is then to command the 
crew to be ordered, or summoned, or mustered, to pass in review 



before him. A tribunal ought to be erected. The lieutenant 
is to be the judge, possessed of greater authority than the Chief 
Justice of any of our States, or even than the Chief Justice of 
the United States. The midshipman is to be clerk, and the 
boatswain, sheriff or marshal. And who are these lieutenants? 
Commonly very young gentlemen, the younger sons of wealthy 
families, who have procured their commissions to give them an 
honorable living, instead of putting them apprentices to trade, 
merchandise, law, physic, or divinity. Their education, their 
experience, their manners, their principles, are so well known, 
that I shall say nothing of them. Lord Keppel said, that he 
knew the maxim of British seamen to be, '■Ho do no rig-ht and 
receive no ivrong;.''^ The principles of the officers I believe to be 
somewhat better; but in this they all seem to agree, officers 
and men, and their present ministry seem to be of the same 
opinion, that the world was made for the British nation, and 
that all nature and nations were created for the dignity and 
omnipotence of the British navy. 

It is impossible to figure to ourselves, in imagination, this 
solemn tribunal and venerable judge, without smiling, till the 
humiliation of our country comes into our thoughts, and inter- 
rupts the sense of ridicule, by the tears of grief or vengeance. 

" Higli on a splendid seat, which far outshone 
Henley's gilt tub, or Flecnoe's Irish throne " — 

the lieutenant examines the countenance, the gait and air of 
every seaman. Like the sage of old, commands him to speak 
"that he may know him." He pronounces his accent and dia- 
lect to be that of the Scotch, Irish, West Country, Yorkshire, 
Welsh, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, or Sark. Many native 
Americans are the descendants of emigrants from all these 
countries, and retain a tincture of the language and pronuncia- 
tion of their fathers and grandfathers. These will be decided 
to be the king's subjects. Many will be found to be emigrants 
or the descendants of emigrants from Germany, Holland, Swe- 
den, France, Spain, Portugal, or Italy. These will be adjudged 
by the lieutenant not to be native Americans. They will be 
thought to have no friends in America who will care enough 
for them to make much noise, and these will be impressed. 
If there should be any natives or sons of natives of any of 
the West India Islands, or of any part of the East Indies, 


where the king is said to have thirty millions of subjects, these 
must ail be impressed, for conquest confers the indelible cha- 
racter of subjects as well as birth. But if neither English, 
Scotch, Irish, Welsh, Italian, German, Dutchman, Spaniard, 
Portuguese, East or West India man is found, the reverend 
Ueulenanl will think, if he is prudent enough not to say, Jura 
negal sibi lata, nihil non arrogat armis. " Our ship is so weakly 
manned, that we cannot fight an enemy ; we cannot even navi- 
gate her in safety in bad weather. Procul a Jove, procul afiil- 
viine. I will take as many native Americans as I please. It 
will be long before I can be called to account ; and at last, I 
can say that I saved the king's ship, and perhaps beat a French- 
man, by the aid of this meritorious impressment, and I am sure 
of friends who will not only bring me off, but obtahi a promo- 
tion for me even for this patriotic action." How many Ameri- 
can ships and cargoes will be sunk in the sea, or driven on shore, 
wrecked and lost; how many masters and remaining sailors 
will be buried in the oceans for want of the assistance of the 
men thus kidnapped and stolen, no human foresight can calcu- 
late. It is, however, easy to predict that the number must be 
very great. These considerations, it seems, have no weight in 
the estimation of the British ministry. Their hearts are not 
taught to feel another's woe. But all these things the captain 
and owner of an American merchant-ship must take into con- 
sideration, and make the subjects of calculation before they can 
venture to sea. In short, there should be a corporation erected 
in every State for the express purpose of insuring against im- 
pressment of seamen. In a course of time and experience the 
chances might be calculated, so that the insurers and insured 
might at a great expense be secure. But the poor sailors can 
never be safe. 

The law must be settled, or remain unsettled. If such im- 
pressments are determined to be legal, either by treaty or by 
acquiescence in the King's Proclamation, it will establish in the 
minds of British seamen a pride of superiority and a spirit of 
domination, and in the minds of American seamen a conscious- 
ness of inferiority and a servile spirit of submission, that ages 
will not eradicate. If the question is allowed to remain unde- 
termined, American seamen will fight in defence of their liberty 
whenever they see the smallest prospect of escaping, and some- 


times when there is none. They will kill and be killed. Some 
will be punished for their resistance on board the British men 
of war ; and some may be carried to a British port and there 
be prosecuted for piracy and murder. This, however, will sel- 
dom or ever be done ; for I still believe there is sense and justice 
enough in the British nation and their juries to acquit any sea- 
man, American or British, who should kill a press-gang in 
defence of his liberty ; but if he should escape and return to 
America, and be here prosecuted, I will not believe there is a 
judge or juror on the continent so ignorant of the law, so dead 
to every sense of justice, so abandoned by every feeling of 
humanity, as to find him guilty of any crime, if it were proved 
that he had killed a dozen press-gangs in defence of his free- 
dom. We shall have a continual warfare at sea, like that lately 
at Canton. Our Secretary of State's office will be filled with 
representations and complaints. Our nation will be held in a 
constant state of irritation and fermentation, and our govern- 
ment always distressed between their anxiety to relieve their 
fellow-citizens, and their inability to serve them. 

A republican, who asserts the duty of jealousy, ought to sus- 
pect that this proclamation was dictated by a spirit as hostile 
and malicious as it was insidious, for the determined purpose 
of depressing the character of our seamen. Take from a sailor 
his pride and his courage, and he becomes a poor animal indeed ; 
broken-hearted, dejected, depressed even below the standard of 
other men of his own level in society. A habit of fear will be 
established in his mind. At the sight of a British man-of-war 
a panic will seize him ; his spirits will sink, and if it be only a 
cutter or a lugger, he will think of nothing but flight and escape. 
What but the haughty spirit of their seamen, which has been 
encouraged and supported for ages by the nation, has given the 
British navy its superiority over the navies of other nations ? 
" Who shall dare to set bounds to the commerce and naval 
power of Great Britain?" is the magnificent language of de- 
fiance in parliament, and it vibrates and echoes through every 
heart in the nation. Every British sailor is made to believe 
himself the master and commander of the world. If the right 
of i mpressment is conceded by us, in theory or practice, our 
seamen's hearts will be broken, and every British seaman will 
say to every American seaman, as the six nations of Indians 


said to the southern tribes, whom they had conquered, " We 
have jmt petticoats on youP In such a case many would have 
too much reason to say, let us no longer rejoice for independ- 
ence, or think of a navy or free commerce, no longer hope for 
any rank in the world, but bow our necks again to the yoke of 
Great Britain. 

K the spirit of a man should remain in our sailors, they will 
sometimes resist. Should a British cutter demand to search 
an American merchant-ship of five hundred tons burthen, armed 
as they sometimes are, and have a right to be — the commander 
of the cutter calls for a muster of the men, in order to impress 
such as he, in his wisdom, shall judge to be British subjects. 
Is it credible that the captain and crew of the merchant-man 
will submit to such usage ? No, he will sink the boat, and the 
cutter too, rather than to be so insulted, and every American 
must applaud him for his spirit. 

_ __ Is this ri ght of impressment to be all on one side, or is it to 
be reci procal ? British modesty may say, " It is an exclusive 
privilege which we claim, assert, and will maintain, because it 
is necessary to support our dominion of the seas, which is neces- 
sary to preserve the balance of power in Europe against France, 
and to prevent the French emperor from sending fifty thousand 
men to conquer the United States of America." All this will 
not convince American seamen. They will answer, " We 
think a balance of power on the ocean as necessary as on the 
continent of Europe. "We thank you for your civility in kindly 
giving us hopes that you will defend us from the French army 
of fifty thousand men ; but we are very willing to take our 
defence upon ourselves. If you have a right to impress seamen 
from our ships, we have an equal right to impress from yours." 
Should one of our gun-boats meet a British East India man, 
armed with fifty guns — the gun-boat demands a search for 
American seamen, calls for the muster-roll, commands the men 
to pass in review before him. Would the East India captain 
submit ? No. He would sooner throw overboard the press- 
gang and run down the gun-boat. Such will be the perpetual 
altercations between Britons and Americans at sea, and lay an 
immovable foundation of eternal hatred between the two na- 
tions. The king's proclamation will be found as impolitic a 
step as ever the court of St. James has taken. 
VOL. IX. 28 


It is said in the context, " the British ships of war, agreeably 
to a right claimed and exercised for ages — a right claimed 
and exercised during the whole of the administrations of Wash- 
ington, of Adams, and of Jefferson, — continue to lake some of 
the British seamen found on board our merchant vessels, and 
with them a small pumber of ours, from the impossibility of 
always distinguishing Englishmen from the citizens of the 
United States." We have before seen what sort of a right to 
impress men from their own ships has been claimed, in what 
manner it has been exercised, and in what light it has been 
considered by the English nation. It amounts to a right of 
getting their officers lawfully killed. But surely, no right was 
ever before claimed to impress men from foreign ships. If such 
a pretended right was ever exercised, or, in other words, if such 
a crime was ever committed, I presume it would be no better 
proof of a legal right than a robbery, burglary, or murder, com- 
mitted on shore, would prove that such actions are innocent 
and lawful. To argue from single facts, or a few instances, to 
a general law, is a sophistry too common with political writers, 
and is sometimes imputable to compilers of the laws of na- 
tions; but none of them ever went to such extravagance as this. 
No claim or pretension of any right to search foreign vessels for 
seamen ever existed before our revolution, and no exercise of 
such a right ever prevailed since, except such as resembles the 
exercise of the right of committing robbery, burglary, and mur- 
der in some of our cities. No "ages" have passed since our 
revolution. The right was never asserted or claimed till the 
late proclamation of the king appeared, and that proclamation 
will make an epoch of disgrace and disaster to one nation or 
the other, perhaps to both. 

From the peace of 1783 to the commencement of our govern- 
ment, under the present national Constitution, whenever any 
American seamen were impressed they were immediately de- 
manded in the name of the old Congress, and immediately 
discharged without ever pretending to such right of impress- 
ment. During the administration of Washington, whenever 
information was received of any impressment, immediate orders 
were sent to demand the men, and the men were promised to 
be liberated. Washington sent Captain Talbot to the West 
Indies as an agent to demand seamen impressed on board 


British men-of-war. Talbot demanded them of the British 
commanders, captains, and admirals, and was refused. He 
went then on shore, and demanded and obtained of the Chief 
Justice of the island writs of Habeas Corpus, by virtue of which 
the impressed seamen were brought from the king's ships, and 
set at liberty by law, the commanders not daring to disobey the 
king's writ. During the administration of Adams, the Secretary 
of State's office can show what demands were made, and the 
success of them. The remonstrances that were made in conse- 
quence of positive instructions, and the memorials presented at 
court by our minister, were conceived in terms as strong as the 
English language could furnish, without violating that respect 
and decorum which ought always to be preserved between 
nations and governments, even in declarations of war. The 
practice was asserted to be not only incompatible with every 
principle of justice and every feeling of humanity, but wholly 
irreconcilable with all thoughts of a continuance of peace and 
friendship between the two nations. The effect of the memorial 
was an immediate order to the commanders of the navy to libe- 
rate the demanded men. I shall say nothing of Mr. Jefferson's 
^ admini stration, because the negotiations already made public 
suff iciently show, that he has not been behind either of his 
predecessors in his zeal for the liberty of American seamen. 
During all this time, excuses and apologies were made, and 
necessity was sometimes hinted; but no serious pretension of 
right was advanced. No. The first formal claim was the 
king's proclamation. With what propriety, then, can this be 
called "a right, claimed and exercised for ages, and dm-ing the 
whole of the administrations of Washington, Adams, and 
Jefferson " ? 

Is there any reason why another proclamation should not 
soon appear, commanding all the officers of the army in Canada 
and Nova Scotia to go over the line, and take by force all the 
king's subjects they can find in our villages? The right would 
stand upon the same principles ; but there is this difference, it 
would not be executed with so little danger. 

A few words more on the subject of pressing. In strictness 
we have nothing to do with the question, whether impressments 
of seamen in England are legal or illegal. Whatever iniquity 
or inhumanity that government may inflict on their own sub- 


jects, we have no authority to call them to an account for it. 
But when they extend that power to us, a foreign nation, it is 
natural for us, and it is our duty as well as interest, to consider 
what it is among themselves. 

The most remarkable case in which this subject has been 
touched in Westminster Hall, is in Cowper's Reports, page 512, 
Rex vs. John Tubbs. The report of the case is very long, and 
I shall only observe, that the question of the legality of the 
power of impressment was not before the court. The question 
was, whether the Lord Mayor had a right to exempt thirty or 
forty watermen for his barges. Lord Mansfield sufficiently 
expresses his alarm, and his apprehension of the consequences 
of starting a question relative to the subject, in the following 
words : " I am very sorry that either of the respectable parties 
before the court, the city of London on the one hand, or the 
lords commissioners of the admiralty on the other, have been 
prevailed upon to agitate this question," &c. 

"I was in hopes the court would have had an opportunity of 
investigating this point to the bottom, instead of being urged 
to discuss it so instantaneously," &c. " I own I wished for a 
more deliberate consideration upon this subject ; but being pre- 
vented of that, I am bound to say what my present sentiments 
are. The power of pressing is founded upon immemorial usage, 
allowed for ages. If it be so founded, and allowed for ages, it 
can have no ground to stand upon, nor can it be vindicated or 
justified by any reason, but the safety of the State; and the 
practice is deduced from that trite maxim of the constitutional 
law of England, that private mischief had better be submitted 
to than public detriment and inconvenience should ensue. To 
be sure, there are instances where private men must give way 
to the public good ; in every case of pressing, every man must 
be very sorry for the act and for the necessity which gives rise 
to it. It ought, therefore, to be exercised with the greatest 
moderation and only upon the most cogent necessity, and 
though it be a legal power, it may, like many others, be abused 
in the exercise of it." 

The case is too long to transcribe ; but it is worth reading. 
My remarks upon it shall be short. 

1. Lord Mansfield most manifestly dreaded the question, 
probably on account of the innumerable difficulties attending it, 
as well as the national uproar it would most certainly excite. 


2. His lordship carefully avoided the use of the word ri^ht. 
He knew the sense, force, and power of the word too well to 
profane that sacred expression by applying it to a practice so 
loose and undefined, so irregular and capricious, so repugnant 
to the inherent, hereditary, unalienable and indefeasible birth- 
rights of British subjects. 

3. He calls it a pj-actice and a power, but he does not even 
venture to call it a prerogative of the crown. 

4. He does not even affirm that there exists such an imme- 
morial usage allowed for ages. He says, " if it be so founded 
and allowed for ages." The existence of such an immemorial 
usage, allowed for ages, was probably one of the principal points 
he wished to investigate. 

5. He does not affirm that such a custom, usage, power, or 
practice could be pleaded or given in evidence against Magna 
Charta. If his lordship had been allowed time to investigate 
the subject to the bottom, he perhaps would not have found 
evidence of any such immemorial usage allowed for ages. He 
certainly would not have found it allowed by any national act 
or legal authority ; and, without one or the other, how can it be 
said to have been allowed ? Allowed by whom ? By those 
who committed the trespass, and no others. His lordship, 
moreover, might have found, that no custom, usage, power, or 
practice could be alleged, pleaded, or given in evidence in any 
court of justice against Magna Charta. 

6. All the judges allow that exemptions, badges, and protec- 
tions against impressment, have been given by Peers, Commons, 
fjord Mayors, Lords and officers of the Admiralty, and, as I 
understand Lord Mansfield, by officers of the navy. Now, 
what a loose, vindefined, arbitrary power is this, to be legally 
established as an immemorial usage allowed for ages ! 

7. I wonder not that his lordship dreaded the discussion of it, 
and an investigation of it to the bottom, for he must have fore- 
seen the endless difficulties of ascertaining, defining, and limit- 
ing the usages which were immemorial, and distinguishing them 
from such as were modern, temporary, usurped, and not allowed. 

8. The counsel for the city had before observed, that the 
legality of pressing, if founded at all, could only be supported 
by immemorial usage, there being clearly no statute in force 
investing the crown with any such authority. 



9. The infinite difficulty of determining who were seamen 
and who were not, must be obvious, and all agi-ee that the 
power is confined to seamen and them only. 

Christian, in his edition of Blackstone, vol. i. p. 419, says, in 
a note, " The legality of pressing is so fully established, that it 
W"ill not now admit of a doubt in any court of justice ; " and in 
proof of this he quotes Lord Mansfield's opinion in the case 
of the King against Tubbs, in the words I have transcribed. 
Whereas I think that, taking all Lord Mansfield says together, 
he makes the subject as doubtful as ever, and encumbered with 
innumerable and insuperable difficulties. 

Upon the whole, all I conclude from the conduct of the mo- 
dern judges and lawyers in England is, that their pride in the 
navy has got the better of their sense of law and justice, and 
that court and county lawyers, as well as administration and 
opposition, have been gradually endeavoring to unite for the 
last thirty or forty years, in sacrificing the principles of justice 
and law to reasons of state, by countenancing this branch of 
arbitrary power. But let them keep their arbitrary powers at 
Jioriie,jiot practise them upon us, our ships, or seamen. 

John Adams. 

Quincy, 25 April, 1809. 


The large share of this work occupied by the official papers, necessarily con- 
tracts the limits that are assigned to the private letters. From the voluminous 
collection of these, -written in the course of more than half a century, a rigid 
selection is now made. Probably not a single leading actor of the revolutionary" 
period has left nearly so many as Mr. Adams. Even if the publication of all 
were deemed advisable, it could hardly be done within reasonable compass. In 
the present publication, the bounds of which were clearly defined at the outset, 
the aim has been to comprise within the space that remains all that seem for any 
reason to present the strongest claims to admission. Of course, much has been 
rejected. Especially is it matter of regret that room could not be found for the 
familiar letters as well of Mr. Adams as of his wife, a small portion of which 
were collected and published by the Editor in another shape some years afo. 
A number of letters addressed to Mr. Adams by distinguished men, which had 
been prepared, are likewise excluded, for the same reason. These materials, 
however, are not lost. They await a later period, when they may be presented 
in a shape not less durable than the present, to illustrate the heroic age of the 
United American States. 


9 August, 1770. 
Madam, — I received from Mr. Gill an intimation that a 
letter from me would not be disagreeable to you ; and I have 
been emboldened, by that means, to run the venture of giving 
you this trouble. I have read, with much admiration, Mrs. 
Macaulay's History of England, &c. It is formed upon the 
plan which I have ever wished to see adopted by historians. It 

1 The author of the History of England. 


is calculated to strip off the gilding and false lustre from worth- 
less princes and nobles, and to bestow the reward of virtue, 
praise, upon the generous and worthy only. No charms of 
eloquence can atone for the want of this exact historical moral- 
ity ; and I must be allowed to say, I have never seen a history 
in which it is more religiously regarded. It was from this 
history, as well as from the concurrent testimony of all who 
have come to this country from England, that I had formed the 
highest opinion of the author as one of the brightest ornaments, 
not only of her sex, but of her age and country. I could not, 
therefore, but esteem the information given me by Mr. Gill, as 
one of the most agreeable and fortunate occurrences of my life. 
Indeed, it was rather a mortification to me to find that a few 
fugitive speculations in a newspaper had excited your curiosity 
to inquire after me. The production, which some person in 
England, I know not who, has been pleased to entitle " A Dis- 
sertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law," was written at 
Braintree, about eleven miles from Boston, in the year 1765 ; — 
written at random, weekly, without any preconceived plan, 
printed in the newspapers without correction, and so little 
noticed or regarded here, that the author never thought it 
worth his while to give it either a title or a signature. And, 
indeed, the editor in London might with more propriety have 
called it " The — what d'ye call it," or, as the Critical Reviewers 
did, " a flimsy, lively rhapsody," than by the title he has given 
it. But it seems it happened to hit the taste of some one, who 
has given it a longer duration than a few weeks, by printing it 
in conjunction with the letters of the House of Representatives 
of this province, and by ascribing it to a very venerable, learned 
name. I am very sorry that Mr. Gridley's name was affixed to 
it for many reasons. The mistakes, inaccuracies, and want of 
arrangement in it are utterly unworthy of Mr. Gridley's great 
and deserved character for learning, and the general spirit and 
sentiments of it are by no means reconcilable to his known 
opinions and principles in politics. It was, indeed, written by 
your present correspondent, who then had formed designs which 
he never has and never will attempt to execute. Oppressed 
and borne down, as he is, by the infirmities of ill health, and 
the calls of a numerous, growing family, whose only hopes are 
in his continual application to the drudgeries of his profession, 


it is almost impossible for him to pursue any inquiries or to 
enjoy any pleasures of the literary kind.^ 

However, he has been informed that you have in contempla- 
tion a history of the present reign, or some other history in 
which the affairs of America are to have a share. If this is 
true, it would give him infinite pleasure ; and, whether it is so 
or not, if he can by any means in his power, by letters or other 
ways, contribute any thing to your assistance in any of your 
inquiries, or to your amusement, he will always esteem himself 
very happy in attempting it. 

Pray excuse the trouble of this letter, and believe me, with 
great esteem and admiration, &c. 


Boston, 17 December, 1773. 

The die is cast. The people have passed the river and cut 
away the bridge. Last night three cargoes of tea were emptied 
into the harbor. This is the grandest event which has ever yet 
happened since the controversy with Britain opened. The 
sublimity of it charms me ! ^ 

For my part, I cannot express my own sentiments of it better 
than in the words of Colonel D. to me, last evening. Balch 
should repeat them. " The worst that can happen, I think," 
said he, " in consequence of it, will be that the province must 
pay for it. Now, I think the province may pay for it, if it is 
drowned, as easily as if it is drunk ; and I think it is a matter 
of indifference whether it is drunk or drowned. The province 
must pay for it in either case. But there is this difference ; I 
believe it will take them ten years to get the province to pay 
for it; if so, we shall save ten years' interest of the money, 
whereas, if it is drunk, it must be paid for immediately." Thus 
he. — However, he agreed with me, that the province would 
never pay for it; and also in this, that the final ruin of our con- 

^ Mrs. Macaulay, in her reply, notices this in the following manner : — • 
" You must give me leave to say, that on the principle of having a right to 
treat your own performances with freedom, you have not done common justice 
to the work entitled, 'A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Laws.' " 

2 The same train of reflection is in the Diary of this date. Volume ii. p. 323. 


stitution of government, and of all American liberties, would 
be the certain consequence of suffering it to be landed. 

Governor Hutchinson and his family and friends will never 
have done with their sfood services to Great Britain and the 
colonies. But for him, this tea might have been saved to the 
East India Company. Whereas this loss, if the rest of the 
colonies should follow our example, will, in the opinion of many 
persons, bankrupt the company. However, I dare say, the 
governor and consignees and custom-house officers in the other 
colonies will have more wisdom than ours have had, and take 
effectual care that their tea shall be sent back to England un- 
touched ; if not, it will as surely be destroyed there as it has 
been here. 

Threats, phantoms, bugbears, by the million, will be invented 
and propagated among the people upon this occasion. Indivi- 
duals will be threatened with suits and prosecutions. Armies 
and navies will be talked of. Military executions, charters an- 
nulled, treason trials in England, and all that. But these terms 
are all but imaginations. Yet, if they should become realities, 
they had better be suffered than the great principle of parlia- 
mentary taxation be given up. 

The town of Boston never was more still and calm of a Sa- 
turday night than it was last night. All things were conducted 
with great order, decency, and perfect submission to government. 
No doubt we all thought the administration in better hands 
than it had been. 


Boston, 22 December, 1773. 

Yesterday the Governor called a council at Cambridge. Eight 
members met at Brattle's. This, no doubt, was concerted last 
Saturday, at Neponset hill, where Brattle and Russel dined, by 
way of caucus, I suppose.^ Sewall dined with their honors 
yesterday. But behold, what a falling off was there ! The 
Governor, who last Friday was fully persuaded and told the 

1 The Governor says that this was an attempt to convene the council, but it 


council that some late proceedings were high treason, and pro- 
mised them the attendance of the attorney-general to prove it 
them out of law books,i now, such is his alacrity in sinking, 
was rather of opinion they were burglary. I suppose he meant 
what we call New England burglary, that is, breaking open a 
shop or ship, &c., which is punished with branding, &c. 

But the council thought it would look rather awkward to 
issue a proclamation against the whole community, and there- 
fore contented themselves with ordering Mr. Attorney to prose- 
cute such as he should know or be informed of. They have 
advised a prorogation of the General Court for a fortnight. It is 
whispered that the Sachem has it in contemplation to go home 
soon, and perhaps the prorogation is to give him time to get 
away. Few think he will meet the House again. 

The spirit of liberty is very high in the country, and universal. 
Worcester is aroused. Last week a monument to liberty was 
erected there in the heart of the town, within a few yards of 
Colonel Chandler's door. A gentleman of as good sense and 
character as any in that county, told me this day, that nothing 
which has been ever done, is more universally approved, ap- 
plauded, and admired than these last efforts. He says, that 
whole towns in that county were on tiptoe to come down. 

Make my compliments to Mrs. Warren, and tell her that I 
want a poetical genius to describe a late frolic among the sea- 
nymphs and goddesses. There being a scarcity of nectar and 
ambrosia among the celestials of the sea, Neptune has deter- 
mined to substitute Hyson and Congo, and, for some of the 
inferior divinities, Bohea. Amphitrite, one of his wives, viz. 
the land, and Salaria, another of his wives, the sea, went to 
pulling caps upon the occasion, but Salaria prevailed. The 
Sirens should be introduced somehow, I cannot tell how, and 
Proteus, a son of Neptune, who could sometimes flow like 
water, and sometimes burn like fire, bark like a dog, howl like 
a wolf, whine like an ape, cry like a crocodile, or roar like a 
lion. But, for want of this same poetical genius, I can do no- 
thing. I wish to see a late glorious event celebrated J)y a 
certain poetical pen which has no equal that I know of in this 

1 See the Diary, vol. ii. p. 325, and compare Hutchinson's account of this 
conference in the third volume of his HiMory, p. 439. 



We are anxious for the safety of the cargo ^ at Provincetown. 
Are there no Vineyard, Marshpee, Mattapoiset Indians, do you 
think, who will take the care of it, and protect it from violence? 
I mean from the hands of tyrants and oppressors, who want to 
do violence with it to the laws and constitution, to the present 
age, and to posterity. 

I hope you have had a happy anniversary festival. May a 
double portion of the genius and spirit of our forefathers rest 
upon us and our posterity ! 


Boston, 9 April, 1774. 

Dear Sir, — It is a great mortification to me to be obliged 
to deny myself the pleasure of a visit to my friends at Plymouth 
next week ; but so fate has ordained it. I am a little appre- 
hensive, too, for the State, upon this occasion, for it has hereto-, 
fore received no small advantage from our sage deliberations at 
your fireside. 

I hope Mrs. Warren is in fine health and spirits ; and that I 
have not incurred her displeasure by making so free with the 
skirmish of the sea-deities, one of the most incontestable evi- 
dences of real genius which has yet been exhibited. For to 
take the clumsy, indigested conception of another, and work it 
into so elegant and classical a composition, requires genius 
equal to that which wrought another most beautiful poem out 
of the little incident of a gentleman's clipping a lock of a lady's 
hair with a pair of scissors. May a double portion of her 
genius, as well as virtues, descend to her posterity, which, united 
to the patriotism, &c,, &c., &c., of &c., &c., &c., will make 
But I am almost in the strains of Hazelrod.^ 

The tories were never, since I was born, in such a state of 
humiliation as at this moment. Wherever I go, in the seve- 
ral counties, I perceive it more and more. They are now in 

1 The fourth and last vessel was driven ashore on Cape Cod. Some of the 
tea was saved, sent to Boston, and landed at the castle. 

2 The name of a character in the dramatic piece, written by Mrs. Warren, 
entitled The Group, and designed to ridicule the leading loyalists of the colony. 


absolute despair of obtaining a triumph without shedding an 
abundance of blood ; and they are afraid of the consequences 
of this. Not that their humanity starts at it at all. The com- 
plaisance, the air of modesty and kindness to the Whigs, the 
show of moderation, the pains to be thought friends to liberty, 
and all that, is amazing. I admire the Jesuits ! The science 
is so exquisite, and there are such immense advantages in it, 
that it is (if it were not for the deviltry of it) most ardently to 
be wished. To see them bowing, smiling, cringing, and seem- 
ing cordially friendly, to persons whom they openly avowed their 
malice against two years ago, and Avhom they would gladly 
butcher now, is provoking, yet diverting. 

News we have none. Still! silent as midnight! The first 

vessels may bring us tidings which will erect the crests of 

the tories again, and depress the spirits of the whigs. For 

my own part, 1 am of the same opinion that I have been for 

many years, that there is not spirit enough on either side to 

bring the question to a complete decision, and that we shall 

_oscillate like a pendulum, and fluctuate like the ocean, for 

jnan^ years to come, and never obtain a complete redress of 

American grievances, nor submit to an absolute establishment 

of parliamentary authority, but be trimming between both, as 

we have been for ten years past, for more years to come than 

you and I shall live. Our children may see revolutions, and be 

_concerned and active in effect ing them, of which we can form 

no conception. 


Boston, 14 May, 1774. 

I had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 12th of 
March yesterday, for which I thank you. Your plan of a 
newspaper to profess itself a general channelof American intel- 
ligence, is happily calculated, I think, to serve the interest both 
of the British and the American public.^ 

If it should be in my power at any time to communicate to 

1 Mr. Woodfall had sent out a copy of his proposals to publish a newspaper, 
designed to be a general channel of American intelligence, and to be called the 
London Packet. '■ 

VOL. IX. 29 V 


you any material intelligence, I shall be glad of the opportunity; 
but I have very little connection with public affairs, and I ho^e^ 
to have less^ 

Indeed, the treatment we receive from our mother country, 
as we have always fondly called her, begins to discourage 
persons here from making any applications to her, upon any 
occasion or for any purpose. Intelligence, evidence, petitions, 
are sent continually, and have been sent for ten years, to no 
purpose. We begin almost to wish that Europe could for- 
get that America was ever discovered, and America could forget 
that Europe ever existed. 

The unexampled bjx)ckade of_Boston is received here with a 
spirit of martyrdom. It will produce effects such as were not 
foreseen by the minister of State who projected it, or by the 
abandoned men in America, who suggested the project to him. 

Nero wished that the inhabitants of Rome had but one neck, 
that he might have the pleasure of cutting it off with his own 
hand at one blow. This, as it would have speedily terminated 
their misery, was humanity in comparison of the minister's pro- 
ject of turning famine into a populous city to devour its devoted 
inhabitants by slow torments and lingering degrees. 

P. S. The commerce of this town of itself has been an essen- 
tial link in a vast chain, which has made New England what it 
is, the southern provinces what they are, the West India islands 
what they are, and the African trade what that is, to say no 
more. The world will very soon see with horror, that this chain 
is broken by one blow. 


Ipswich, 25 June, 1774. 

I am very sorry I had not the pleasure of seeing you after 
your return from Salem, as I wanted a great deal of conversa- 
tion with you on several subjects. 

The principal topic, however, was the enterprise to Philadel- 
phia. I view the assembly, that is to be there, as I do the 
court^ofj\^eopagus, the council of the Amphictyons, a conclave, 


a sanhedrim, a divan, I know not what. I suppose you sent 
me there to school. I thank you for thinking me an apt scholar, 
or capable of learning. For my own part, I am at a loss, totally 
at a loss, what to do when we get there ; but I hope to be there 

It is to be a school of political prophets, I suppose, a nursery 
of American Statesmen. May it thrive and prosper and flourish, 
and from this fountain may there issue streams, which shall 
gladden all the cities and towns in North America, forever ! I 
am for making it annual, and for sending an entire new set 
every year, that all the principal geniuses may go to the univer- 
sity in rotation, that we may have politicians in plenty. Our 
great complaint is the scarcity of men fit to govern such mighty 
interests as are clashing in the present contest. A scarcity 
indeed ! For who is sufficient for these things ? Our policy 
must be to improve every opportunity and means for forming 
our people, and preparing leaders for tliem in the grand march 
of politics.. We must make our children travel. You and I 
have too many cares and occupations, and therefore we must 
recommend it to Mrs. Warren, and her friend Mrs. Adams, to 
teach our sons the divine science of the politics ; and to be 
frank, I suspect they understand it better than we do. 

There is one ugly reflection. Brutus and Cassius were con- 
quered and slain. Hampden died in the field, Sidney on the 
scaffold, Harrington in jail, &c. This is cold comfort. Politics 
are an ordeal path among red hot ploughshares. Who, then 
would be a politician for the pleasure of running about barefoot 
among them ? Yet somebody must. And I think those whose 
characters, circumstances, educations, &c., call them, ought to 

Yet I do not think that one or a few men are under any 
moral obliijation to sacrifice for themselves and families all the 
pleasures, profits, and prospects of life, while others for whose 
benefit this is to be done lie idle, enjoying all the sweets of 
society, accumulating wealth in abundance, and laying founda- 
tions for opulent and poM''erful families for many generations. 
No. I think the arduous duties of the times ought to be dis- 
charged in rotation, and I never will engage more in politics 
but upon this system. 

I must entreat the favor of your sentiments and Mrs. Warren's 


what is proper, practicable, expedient, wise, just, good, neces- 
sary to be done at Philadelphia. Pray let me have them in a 
letter before I go.^ 


Braintree, 23 July, 1774. 

You will be surprised, I believe, to receive a letter from me, 
upon a matter which I have so little right to intermeddle with 
as the subject of this. I am sensible it is a subject of very 
great delicacy ; but as it is of equal importance to your own 
happiness and that of your only son, I hope and believe you will 
receive it, as it is really meant, as an expression of my friend- 
ship both to yourself and him, without any other view or motive 

Your son has never said a word to me, but, from what I have 
accidentally heard from others, I have reason to believe that he 
is worried and uneasy in his mind. This discontent is in dan- 
ger of producing very disagreeable effects, as it must interrupt 
his happiness, and as it may, and probably will, if not removed, 
injure his health, and, by discouraging his mind and depressing 
his spirits, disincline him to, or disqualify him for, his studies 
and business. 

I believe, Sir, you are not so sensible as I am of the difficulty 
of a young gentleman's getting into much business in the prac- 
tice of the law. It must, in the best of times and for the most 
promising genius, be a work of time. The present situation of 
public affairs is such as has rendered this difficulty tenfold greater 
than ever. The grant from the crown of salaries to the judges, 
the proceedings of the two houses of assembly in relation to it, 
and the general discontent throughout all the counties of the 

1 Compare the Diary of the same date. Vol. ii. p. 338. A letter of similar 
purport seems to have been addressed to Joseph Hawley from this place two 
days later, but no copy remains. See p. 342. 

^ William Tudor, the young man here mentioned, bad been a student in the 
office of the writer. An interesting biographical memoir of him, from which 
tliis letter has been taken, is to be found in the 18th volume of the Collections 
of the Massachusetts Historical Society- 


province, among jurors and others, concerning it, had well nigh 
ruined the business of all the lawyers in the government, before 
the news of the three late acts of parliament arrived. These 
acts had put an end to all the business of the law in Boston. 
The port act of itself has done much towards this, but the other 
two acts have spread throughout the province such an appre- 
hension, that there will be no business for courts for some time 
to come, that our business is at present in a manner at an end. 

In this state of things I am sure it is impossible that your 
son's income should be adequate to his necessary expenses, 
however frugal he may be, and I have heard that he complains 
that it is not. 

The expenses for the rent of his office, for his board and 
washing, must come to a considerable sum annually, without 
accounting a farthing for other transient charges, which a young 
gentleman of the most sober and virtuous character can no 
more avoid than he can those for his bed and board. So that 
it is absolutely impossible but that he must run behind hand 
and be obliged to run in debt for necessaries, unless either he is 
assisted by his father, or leaves the town of Boston and betakes 
himself to some distant place in the country, where, if his busi- 
ness should not be more, his expenses would be vastly less. 

I am well aware of the follies and vices so fashionable among 
many of the young gentlemen of our age and country, and, if 
your son was infected with them, I would never have become 
an advocate for him, without his knowledge, as I now am, with 
his father. I should think, the more he was restrained the better. 
But I know him to have a clear head and an honest, faithful 
heart. He is virtuous, sober, steady, industrious, and constant 
to his office. He is as frugal as he can be in his rank and class 
of life, without being mean. 

It is your peculiar felicity to have a son whose behavior and 
character are thus deserving. 

Now there can be nothing in this life so exquisitely painful 
to such a mind, so humiliating, so mortifying, as to be distrusted 
by his father, as to be obliged to borrow of strangers, or to run 
in debt and lie at mercy. 

A small donation of real or personal estate, made to him 
now, would probably be of more service to him than ten times 
that sum ten years hence. It would give him a small income 



tliat he could depend upon ; it would give him weight and repu- 
tation in the world ; it would assist him greatly in getting into 

I am under concern lest the anxiety he now struggles with 
should prove fatal to him. I have written this without his 
knowledge, and I do not propose ever to acquaint him with it. 
If you please you may burn this ; only I must entreat you to 
believe it to flow only from real concern for a young gentleman 
whom I greatly esteem. 


Northampton, 25 July, 1774. 

I never received nor heard of your letter of the 27th of June 
last, written at Ipswich, until the 23d instant. Immediately on 
the receipt of it, I set myself to consider of an answer to it. 

What I first remark is, your great distrust of your abilities 
for the service assigned you. Hereon I say that I imagine I 
have some knowledge of your abilities, and I assure you. Sir, I 
gave my vote for you most heartily, and I have not yet repented 
of it. My opinion is, that our committee, taken together, is the 
best we could have taken in the province. I should be ex- 
tremely sorry that any one of them should fail of going. The 
absence of any one of them will destroy that happy balance or 
equilibrium which they will form together. I acknowledge that 
the service is most important, and I do not know who is fully 
equal to it. The importance of the business ought not to beget 
despondency in any one, but to excite to the greatest circum- 
spection, the most attentive and mature consideration, and calm- 
est deliberation. Courage and fortitude must be maintained. 
If we give way to despondency, it will soon be all over with us. 
Rashness must be avoided. The end or effect of every measure 
proposed, must be thoroughly contemplated before it be adopted. 
It must be well looked to that the measure be feasible and 
practicable. If we make attempts, and fail in them, Lord 

^ Of this remarkable man, it is to be regretted that so few traces remain. Even 
under the pen of an enemy like Hutchinson, his character shines like burnished 


North will call them impudent and futile, and the tories will 

It appears to me, Sir, that the Congi-ess ought first to settle 
with absolute precision, the object or objects to be pursued; as 
whether the end of all shall be the repeal of the tea duty only, 
or of that and the molasses act, or these and opening the port of 
Boston, or these and also the restoration of the charter of the Mas- 
sachusetts Bay (for it is easy to demonstrate that the late act 
for regulation, &c., in its effect, annuls the whole charter, so far 
as the charter granted any privileges). When the objects or 
ends to be pursued are clearly and certainly settled, the means 
or measures to be used to obtain and effect those ends can be 
better judged of. Most certainly the objects must be definitely 
agreed on, and settled by Congress, first or last. 

As to means and measures, I am not fully settled or deter- 
mined in my own mind. It may not be prudent fully to ex- 
plain myself in writing upon that head. The letter may mis- 

You are pleased to say that extremities and ruptures it is our 
policy to avo id. I agree it, if any other means will answer our 
ends, or if it is plain that they would not. But let me say. Sir, 
that with me it is settled as a maxim and first truth, that the 
people or State who will not or cannot defend their liberties and 
rights, will not have any for any long time. They will be slaves. 
Some other State will find it out, and will subjugate them. 

You say. Sir, that measures to check and interrupt the torrent 
of luxury, are most agreeable to your sentiments. Pray, Sir, 
did any thing ever do it, but necessity ? 

The institution of annual Congresses, you suppose, will 
brighten the chain, and would make excellent statesmen and 
politicians. I agree it. But pray. Sir, do not you imagine that 
such an institution would breed extremities and ruptures ? It 
appears to me most clear that the institution, if formed, must 
be discontinued, or we must defend it with ruptures. 

I suggested above that my letter might miscarry ; and we do 
not know, when we write, to what hands our letters may come. 
I should therefore be extremely glad to see some, or all of the 
committee, as they pass through this county. If there were 
any hopes of obtaining the favor, I would beg them all to come 
through Northampton. It would not be more than twenty 


miles farther, and as good a road. But I imagine they will all 
pass through Springfield. And the favor I earnestly ask of you, 
Sir, is, that you would be pleased to inform by a letter by our 
post, what day you expect to be at Springfield, and I will en- 
deavor to see the committee then, although I should wait there 
two or three days for it. Pray, Sir, do not fail of sending me 
this intelligence. You will probably receive this letter on Satur- 
day this week, by Mr. Wilde, our post. He keeps Sabbath at 
Boston. He commonly comes out on Monday, about eleven 
o'clock. You may find him, or if you leave a letter for him, to 
take either at Messrs. Edes & Gill's office, or at Messrs. Fleets, 
in the forenoon, it will probably come safe to me next week on 
Wednesday. I will prevail with him, if I can, to call on you 
to take a line from you for me. Information of the time you 
intend to be at Springfield, I am very anxious to obtain. Pray, 
Sir, oblige me with it. 

But as it is possible that I may miss of seeing the commit- 
tee, or any of them, Avhich will indeed be to me a very great 
disappointment, I ask leave to make myself free enough to sug- 
gest the following, which, if you judge proper, I consent you 
should communicate to your brethren. You cannot. Sir, but 
be fully apprised, that a good issue of the Congress depends a 
good deal on the harmony, good understanding, and I had al- 
most said brotherly love, of its members ; and every thing tend- 
ing to beget and improve such mutual affection, and indeed to 
ceme nt the body, ought to be practised ; and every thing in the 
least tending to create disgust or strangeness, coldness, or so 
much as indifference, carefully avoided. Now there is an opi- 
nion which does in some degree obtain in the other colonies, 
that the Massachusetts gentlemen, and especially of the town 
of Boston, do affect to dictate and take the lead in continental 
measures ; that we are apt, from an inward vanity and self-con- 
ceit, to assume big and haughty airs. Whether this opinion 
has any foundation in fact, I am not certain. Our own tories 
propagate it, if they did not at first suggest it. Now I pray 
that every thing in the conduct and behaviour of our gentle- 
men, which might tend to beget or strengthen such an opinion, 
might be most carefully avoided. It is highly probable, in my 
opinion, that you^will meet gentlemen from sever al of the oth^^ 
colonies, fully equal to yourselves or any of yo u, in t heir know-_ 


ledge of Great Britain, the colonies, law, history, government, 
commerce, &c. I know some of the gentlemen of Connecticut 
are very sensible, ingenious, solid men. Who will go from New 
York, I have not heard, but I know there are very able men 
there ; and by what we from time to time see in the public 
papers, and what our assembly and committees have received 
from the assemblies and committees of the more southern colo- 
nies, we must be satisfied that they have men of as much sense 
and literature as any we can or ever could boast of. But 
enough of this sort, and 1 ask pardon that I have said so much 
of it. 

Another thing I beg leave just to hint; — that it is very likely 
that you may meet divers gentlemen in Congress, who are of 
Dutch, or Scotch, or Irish extract. Many more there are in those 
southern colonies of those descents, than in these New England 
colonies, and many of them very worthy, learned men. Quaere, 
therefore, whether prudence would not direct that every thing 
should be very cautiously avoided which could give any the 
least umbrage, disgust, or affront to any of such pedigree. For 
as of every nation and blood, he that feareth God and worketh 
righteousness, is accepted of him, so they ought to be of us. 
Small things may have important effects in such a business. 
That which disparages our family ancestors or nation, is apt to 
stick by us, if cast up in comparison, and their blood you will 
find as warm as ours. 

One thing I want that the southern gentlemen should be 
deeply impressed with ; that is, that all acts of British legisla- 
tion which influence and affect our internal polity, are as abso- 
lutely repugnant to liberty and the idea of our being a free peo- 
ple, as taxation or revenue acts. Witness the present regulation 
act for this province ; and, if we shall not be subdued by what 
is done already, like acts will undoubtedly be made for other 
colonies. I expect nothing but new treasons, new felonies, new 
misprisions, new praemunires, and, not to say the Lord, the devil 
knows what. 

Pray, Sir, let Mr. Samuel Adams know that our top Tories 
here give out most confidently, that he will certainly be taken 
up before the Congress. I am not timid with regard to myself 
or friends, but I am satisfied that they have such advice from 
head-quarters. Please to give my hearty regards to him, the 


Speaker, and all the gentlemen of the Congress ; and I beg that 
neither of them would on any account make default. If they 
do, there will be great searchings of heart. You may all manage 
the journey so that it will be pleasant, and very much serve 
your health. And that God would bless you all, is the most 
fervent prayer of, Sir, 

Your hearty friend, &c. 

Joseph Hawley. 

Pray, Sir, do not fail of acquainting me when you shall be 
in our county .^ 


PMlaclelphia, 29 September, 1774. 

I wish it was in my power to write you any thing for the re- 
lief of your anxiety, under the pressure of those calamities 
which now distress our beloved town of Boston and province 
of Massachusetts. The sentiments expressed in your last to 
me, are such as would do honor to the best of citizens, in the 
minds of the virtuous and worthy, of any age or country, in the 
worst of times. Dulce et deconmi est pro patrid mori. 

Would'st thou receive tliy country's loud applause, 

Lov'd as her father, as her God ador'd ? 
Be thou the bold assertor of her cause, 

Her voice in council ; in the fight, her sword. 

You have no adequate idea of the pleasures or the difficulties 
of the errand I am now upon. The Congress is such an assem- 
bly as never before came together, on a sudden, in any part of 
the world. JHere are fortunesj abilities, learning, eloquence, 
acuteness, equal to any I ever met with in my life. Here is a 
diversity of religions, educations, manners, interests, such as it 
would seem almost impossible to unite in one plan of conduct 
Every question is discussed with a moderation, an acuteness, 
and a minuteness equal to that of Queen Elizabeth's privy 

' The delegates did not pass through Springfield. Mr. Hawley, being disap- 
pointed in meeting with them, and being desirous to communicate his views of 
the measures to be pursued at this crisis, sent them the remarkable paper enti- 
tled " Broken hints, to be communicated to the committee of Congress for the 
]Vlassachusetts," which is inserted in the appendix (A) to this volume. 


council. This occasions infinite delays. We are under obliga- 
tions of secrecy in every thing, except the single vote you have 
seen, approving the resolutions of the county of Suffolk. What 
effect this vote may have with you, is uncertain. What you 
will do, God knows. You say you look up to the Congress. 
It is well you should ; but I hope you will not expect too much 
from us. The delegates here are not sufficiently acquainted 
with our province, and with the circumstances you are in, to 
form a judgment what course it is proper for you to take. They 
start at the thought of taking up the old charter ; they shudder 
at the prospect of blood ; yet they are unanimously and unal- 
terably against your submission to any of the Acts for a single 

You see by this what they are for ; namely, that you stand 
stock still, and live without government or law, at least for the 
present, and as long as you can. I have represented to them, 
whenever I see them, the utter impossibility of four hundred 
thousand people existing long without a legislature, or courts 
of justice. They all seem to acknowledge it, yet nothing can 
as yet be accomplished. 

We hear perpetually the most figurative panegyrics upon our 
wisdom, fortitude, and temperance ; the most fervent exhorta- 
tions to perseverance ; but nothing more is done. 

I may venture to tell you that I believe we shall agree to non- 
importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation, but not to 
commence so soon as I could wish. 

Indeed all this would be insufficient for your purpose ; a more 
adequate support and relief to the Massachusetts should be 
adopted. But I tremble for fear we should fail of obtaining it. 

There is, however, a most laudable zeal, and an excellent 
spirit, which every day increases, especially in this city. The 
Quakers had a general meeting last Sunday, and are deeply af- 
fected with the complexion of the times. They have recom- 
mended to all their people to renounce tea ; and indeed the 
people of this city, of all denominations, have laid it generally 
aside, since our arrival here. They are about setting up com- 
panies of cadets, volunteers, &c., &c. 

It is the universal opinion here, that General Gage is in the 
horrors, and that he means to act only on the defensive. How 
well this opinion is founded, you can judge better than I. 


I must beseech you to show this letter to no man in whom 
you have not the most perfect confidence. It may do a great 
deal of mischief. 

We have had numberless prejudices to remove here. We 
have been obliged to act with great delicacy and caution. We 
have been obliged to keep ourselves out of sight, and to feel 
pulses, and to sound the depths ; to insinuate our sentiments, 
designs, and desires, by means of other persons, sometimes of 
one province, and sometimes of another. A futvire opportunity 
in conversation will, I hope, make you acquainted with all. 


Bralntree, 12 December, 1774. 

I received your kind favor of 16th ultimo, with great pleasure, 
last week, at Cambridge. I rejoice at the proofs your city has 
given of her inflexible attachment to the public cause, and de- 
termination to support it. There are many names in your list 
of committee men, which I had not the pleasure of knowing ; 
but there are abilities, vu-tues, and spirit enough, in those whom 
I know very well, to secure the good behaviour of any commit- 
tee which could, I think, be chosen in your and my beloved 


The letter to Quebec shall be faithfully and speedily for- 
warded. Our provincial Congress, and the committee of cor- 
respondence in Boston, have had under consideration various 

' The address of this letter does not appear upon the imperfect draught that 
has been preserved. It is now given by conjecture from the context. That the 
person must have bee n one of the seven delegates of Pennsylvania to the first 
Congress, is obvious. Of these it could not have been Galloway, or Ross,_ or 
Dickinson, for they are mentioned in the third person. The reason for selecting 
Mr. Biddle from the four remaining is, that he was on the committee which re- 
ported the bin of rights alluded to In the last paragraph, and therefore familiar 
with the writer's relation to the fourth article ; and that the business not com- 
pleted by the Congress, seems to have been left in his care. He was chair- 
man, with Messrs. Dickinson and Thomson, herein alluded to together, to superin- 
tend the publication of the journal ; and probably likewise had charge of the 
distribution of the letter to Quebec. It must have been In this capacity that he 
addressed the letter to Mr. Adams, to which this is the reply ; as the Congress 
had recommended that the delegates of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and 
New York, should assist in the dispersion of that document. By a memorandum 
inserted in the American Archives, it appears that three hundred copies had 
been forwarded to Boston on the 16th of November. 


plans for opening a communication with several parts of that 

You kindly inquire what we are doing or suffering. You 
will see by a printed pamphlet, which I will send you as soon 
as it is out, what our provincial congress has been doing — that 
is, you will see in part, not all. Our people, through the pro- 
vince, are everywhere learning the military art — exercising per- 
petually ; so that, I suppose, if occasion should require, an army 
of fifteen thousand men, from this province alone, might be 
brought into the field in one week. 

The difficulties we suffer, however, for want of law and go- 
vernment, are innumerable ; ^ total stagnation of law and com- 
merce almost. No man can pay his just debts, because he can 
get no business to do, by which he can earn any money, and if 
he has ever so much due to him, he caimot get a shilling of it 
from his debtors. We are trying, by a thousand experiments, 
the ingenuity as well as virtue of our people. The effects are 
such as would divert you. Imagine four hundred thousand peo- 
ple w ithout government or Taw, forming themselves in compa- 
nies for various purposes, of justice, policy, and war! You 
must allow for a great deal of the ridiculous, much of the me- 
lancholy, and some of the marvellous. I must not be particu- 
lar, because my letter may miscarry. 

I have sometimes wished, since my return, that we had fallen 
in, totis viribus, with the motion made by Mr. Ross, and second- 
ed by Mr. Galloway, that this province should be left to her 
own discretion with respect to government and justice, as well 
as defence. Our provincial Congress had in contemplation 
some sublime conceptions, which would in that case have been 
carried rapidly into execution. 

Your account of the General's intended journey to Maryland, 
gave me great pleasure.^ I hope the continent wall provide 
themselves, at this time, with arms and skill. No country ought 
ever to be without either. 

The intuitive, the holy, the decisive spirits mentioned in a 
late Philadelphia paper, cannot avoid recollecting at this time, 
my friend, that the Grecian commonwealths were the most 
heroic confederacy that ever existed ; the politest, bravest, and 

' This must have been General Charles Lee. 
VOL. IX. 30 


wisest of men. Their sculptors, painters, architects, poets, phy- 
sicians, critics, historians, philosophers, orators, warriors, and 
statesmen, were the brightest ornaments of their whole species, 
and examples for imitation to all succeeding generations. The 
period of their glory was from the defeat of Xerxes to the rise 
of Alexander. Let us not be enslaved, my dear friend, either 
by Xerxes or Alexander. 

The town of Boston is like Zion in distress. Seneca's virtu- 
ous man struggling with adversity. 

Spectaculum dignum ad quod respiciat Deus. 

Suffering amazing loss, but determined to endure poverty and 
death, rather than betray America and posterity. 

Be pleased to present my most respectful compliments and 
grateful acknowledgments to Mr. Dickinson, Thomson, &c. I 
have not time to name them all. I mean almost the whole 
city of Philadelphia. 

I should have written to you long before this, if I had not 
been prevented by^an inflammation in my eyes, so violent that 
I have not been able to write or read. Pray write me as often 
as possible, and let me know how the fourth resolution in our 
bill of rights is relished and digested among the choice spirits 
along the continent. I had more anxiety about that, than all 
the rest. But I find it is extremely popular here. Our provin- 
cial Congress have approved and adopted it in strong terms. 
They consider it as a great point gained. They think it has 
placed our connection with Great Britain on its true principles, 
and that there is no danger from it to us, and there is quite as 
much allowed to her as either justice or policy requires. 


Braintree, 28 December, 1774. 

Sir, — I have had the honor of receiving from you a present, 
in two volumes of Political Disquisitions. The very polite and 
obliging manner in which this present was conveyed to me, de- 
mands my grateful acknowledgments. But the present itself 
is invaluable. 


I cannot but think those Disquisitions the best service that a 
citizen could render to his country at this great and dangerous 
crisis, whenj;he British^empire seems ripe for destruction, and 
tottering on the brink of a precipice. If any thing can possibly 
open the eyes of the nation, and excite it to exert itself, it 
nuist be such a sight of its danger, and of the imperceptible 
steps by which it ascended to it. 

I have contributed somewhat to make the Disquisitions more 
known and attended to in several parts of America, and they 
are held in as high estimation by all my friends as they are by 
me. The more they are read, the more eagerly and generally 
they are sought for. 

We have pleased ourselves in America with hopes that the 
publication of those Disquisitions, the exertions of the other 
friends of virtue and freedom in England, together with the 
union of sentiment and conduct of America, which appears by 
the proceedings of the Congress of Philadelphia, would have 
had their full operation and effect upon the nation, during the 
fall and winter, while the people were canvassing for elections ; 
and that, in spite of bribery, some alteration in the House of 
Commons for the better might have been made. But the sud- 
den dissolution of parliament, and the impatient summons for 
a new election, have blasted all these hopes. We now see 
plainly, that every trick and artifice of sharpers, gamblers, and 
horse-jocides, is to be played off against the cause of liberty in 
England and America; and that no hopes are to be left for 
either but in the sword. 

We are, in this province, Sir, at the brink of a civil war. 
Our Alva, Gage, with his fifteen Mandamus counsellors, are 
shut up in Boston, afraid to stir, afraid of their own shades, 
protected with a dozen regiments of regular soldiers and strong 
fortifications in the town, but never moving out of it. We 
_h,ave no council,^q^jiouse^ no legislative, no executive. Not a 
court of justice has sat since the month of September. Not a 
debt can be recovered, nor a trespass redressed, nor a criminal 
of any kind brought to punishment. What the ministry will 
do next, is uncertain. Enforce the act for altering our govern- 
ment they cannot; all the regiments upon the establishment 
would not do it, for juries will not serve nor represent. What- 
ever Alva and his troops may think of it, it has required great 


caution and delicacy in the conduct of affairs to prevent their 
destruction. For my own part, I have bent my chief attention 
to prevent a rupture, and to impress my friends with the im- 
portance of preventing it. Not that I think the lives of five or 
ten thousand men, though my own should be one of them, 
would not be very profitably spent in obtaining a restoration of 
our liberties, but because I know that those lives would never 
go unrevenged, and it would be vain ever to hope for a recon- 
ciliation with Great Britain afterwards. Britons would not 
easily forgive the destruction of their brethren ; I am absolutely 
certain that New England men never would that of theirs. 
Nor would any part of America ever forget or forgive the 
destruction of one New England man in this cause. The death 
of four or five persons, the most obscure and inconsiderable that 
could have been found upon the continent, on the 5th March, 
1770, has never yet been forgiven by any part of America. 
What, then, would be the consequence of a battle in which 
many thousands must fall, of the best blood, the best families, 
fortunes, abilities, and moral characters in the country ? 

America never will submit to the claims of parliament and. 
administration. New England alone has two hundred thou- 
sand fighting men, and all in a militia, established by law ; not 
exact soldiers, but all used to arms.^ 


Braintree, 3 January, 1775. 

Dear Sir, — I have this morning received a line from Mrs. 
Warren, and will inclose her letter to Mrs. Macaulay by the 
first opportunity. Be pleased to make my compliments to 
Mrs. Warren. 

Yesterday I had a letter from Annapolis, in Maryland, from 
my friend Mr. Chase, inclosing the resolutions of their provin- 
cial convention, consisting of eighty members, representing all 

' Incomplete — the rest on a leaf, which has been torn off. 


their counties. I wish I could inclose it to you, but it must be 
printed here. They unanimously approve the proceedings of 
the Continental Congress, and determine to carry them punc- 
tually into execution ; choose the same delegates, with two new 
ones, for the next Congress ; vote to kill no lambs ; to raise flour, 
cotton, and hemp ; and unanimously vote a militia to be esta- 
_blished through the whole province by the people themselves, 
who are to choose their own officers, and all persons between 
sixteen and fifty are to be embodied ; unanimously vote to raise 
ten thousand pounds, to be laid out by the county committees 
in arms and ammunition to be kept and disposed of by the 
committees as they shall think proper; unanimously vote that 
contributions for Boston be continued as long as wanted ; and 
resolve unanimously, " That if the late acts of parliament rela- 
tive to the Massachusetts Bay shall be attempted to be carried 
into execution by force in that colony, or if the assumed power 
of parliament to tax the colonies shall be attempted to be carried 
into execution by force in that or any other colony, that, in such 
case, this province will support such colony to the utmost of 
their power;" recommend similar resolutions to all the other 
colonies, and vote similar letters to be sent them. 

You will soon see the whole, I hope. There is a charming 
spirit in the whole, as well as in Chase's letter. He says, " he 
thinks we may never have a more favorable crisis to determine 
the point ; I mean the colonies will probably never be so cordially 
united, and their spirits in a higher tone, than at present." He 
says, that "recent advices leave us little room to hope; and we 
must therefore trust to the goodness of our cause, our own vir- 
tue and fortitude." He says, " he has no doubt that sentiments 
equally generous and wise prevail in our colony, who have 
hitherto exhibited an example of wisdom, patience, and forti- 
tude, to the disgrace of the present, and the admiration of the 
future generations." 

We have no great news. The old rotten rascals are again 
chiefly chosen.^ I have seen the list ; very few new members. 

If you see Draper's papers and Mills and Hicks's, you will 
observe that the arch-enemy is at work again ^ in his infernal 
council at Boston. 

1 To Parliament 

2 The papers of Massachusettensis were in course of publication. 




I never think of the junto there, immured as they are, without 
recollecting the infernal spirits in Milton after they had recovered 
from their first astonishment arising from their fall from the 
battlements of heaven to the sulphurous lake, not subdued, 
though confounded, and plotting a fresh assault on the skies. 

" What though the field be lost? 
All is not lost ; the unconquerable will, 
And study of revenge, immortal hate, 
And courage never to submit or yield," &c. 

" Of this be sure, 
To do aught good never -will be our task, 
But ever to do ill our sole delight," &c. 

Is not this rather too frolicsome and triumphant for the times, 
which are dull enough, and as bad as they can be? I doubt 
whether war, carnage, and havoc would make us more un- 
happy than this cruel state of suspense we suffer in the contern^ 
pla tion of^them in prospect. In haste. 


Braintree, 15 March, 1775. 

Dear Sir, — I have had the pleasure and the honor of several 
letters from you, and one from an incomparable satirist of our 
acquaintance, and must own myself very faulty in neglecting 
so long to answer them ; but you know the infirmity of my 
eyes, which still continues, and renders it very difficult for me 
to discharge my debts in the literary way. The speculations 
you read every week, as you say, in the papers, drop down from 
the clouds.^ Is it not impossible that they should be written 
without eyes ? 

As to my being of the Congress, I think our town did right 
in not choosing me, as they left out Thayer, and as Mr. Palmer 
is as good a hand as they can employ ; and having been for 
some time in the centre of all their business in the county, 
town, and province, he is the best man they have. Indeed, I 

' The papers of Novanglus. 


was not at the meeting, and never had been at any meeting in 
this t_o\vn for eight jears^ To say the truth, I was much averse 
to being chosen, and shall continue so, for I am determined, if 
thing s ^e settled, to avoid public life. I have neither fortune, 
leisure, health, nor genius for it. Being a man of desperate 
fortune, and a bankrupt in business, I cannot help putting my 
hand to the pump, now the ship is in a storm, and the hold half 
fall of water ; but as soon as she gets into a calm, and a place 
of safety, I must leave her. At such a time as this, there are 
many dangerous things to be done, which nobody else will do, 
and therefore I cannot help attempting them ; but in peaceful 
times there are always hands enough ready. 

The accounts we have from every quarter are agreeable upon 
the whole. If we are prudent, a war will break out in England 
first, whatever the sanguine tories may hope, or the timid whigs 

Virginia has sown her wheat instead of tobacco; and so 
many of her planters have desisted from exporting the old crop, 
that the vessels cannot get freight. Their men are ready to 

I think the petitions from Jamaica, and the behavior of the 
other islands, are great events in our favor ; and on the whole, 
that the measures already concerted will as certainly insure us 
success as sun and rain, a deep soil and strong manure, will 
produce you a crop of grass. It may take time. 

The people this way rather advance in resolution, I think. I 
have this day attended a town meeting, and we have voted 
three companies of minute men, and an association compre- 
hending that of the Congress and all the votes of the Provincial 
Congress, and appointed a committee of thirty persons to see it 
faithfully observed. We have a few rascally Jacobites and 
Roman Catholics in this town, but they dare not show them- 

The lies the tories make and spread to keep up the spirits of 
their party, are ridiculous enough. Forty thousand Russians, 
twenty thousand British and Irish troops, and sixteen capital 
ships and a thousand cutters, and all that. Such steps would 
produce another revolution. 

I hope to have the pleasure of an evening with you in your 
way to Concord. Pray take a bed here. 


My most friendly regards to a certain lady. Tell her that 
God Almighty (I use a bold style) has intrusted her with pow- 
ers for the good of the world, which in the course of his pro- 
vidence he bestows upon very few of the human race ; that 
instead of being a fault to use them it would be criminal to 
neglect them. 


Philadelphia, 10 June, 1775. 

Dear Sir, — It would be a relief to my mind, if I could write 
freely to you concerning the sentiments, principles, facts, and 
arguments which are laid before us in Congress ; but injunc- 
tions and engagements of honor render this impossible. What 
1 learn out of doors among citizens, gentlemen, and persons of 
all denominations, is not so sacred. I find that the general 
sense abroad is, to prepare for a vigorous defensive war,^ but at 
the same time to keep open the door of reconciliation ; to hold 
the sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other ; to 
proceed with warlike measures and conciliatory measures pari_ 

I am myself as fond of reconciliation, if we could reasonably 
entertain hopes of it upon a constitutional basis, as any man. 
But I think, if we consider the education of the sovereign, and 
that the Lords, the Commons, the electors, the army, the navy, 
the officers of excise, customs, &c., &c., have been now for 
many years gradually trained and disciplined by corruption to 
the system of the court, we shall be convinced thaMhe cancer 
is too deeply rooted and too far spread to be cured by any thing 
short of cutting it out entire. 

We have ever found by experience, that petitions, negotia- 
tions, every thing which holds out to the people hopes of a 
reconciliation without bloodshed, is greedily grasped at and 
relied on ; and they cannot be persuaded to think that it is so 
necessary to prepare for war as it really is. Hence our present 
scarcity of powder, &c. 

' This letter was addressed to Mr. Gill as chairman of the committee of sup- 
plies, at Cambridge, and is preserved in the archives of Massachusetts. 


However, this continent is a vast, unwieldy machine. We 
cannot force events. We must suffer people to take their own 
way in many cases, when we think it leads wrong, hoping, 
however, and believing that our liberty and felicity will be pre- 
served in the end, though not in the speediest and surest manner. 
In my opinion, powder and artillery are the most efficacious, 
sure, and infallible conciliatory measures we can adopt. 

Pray write me by every opportunity, and beseech my friends 
to write. Every letter I receive does great good. The gentle- 
man to whom most letters from our province are addressed, has 
not leisure to make the best use of them. 

There are three powder mills in this province, two in New 
York, but no nitre. Cannot the Massachusetts begin to pre- 
pare both ? Pray Avrite me minutely the state of the people of 
Boston and our army. 

Pray let me know if Mr. Gill and Mr. Boylston are out of 
prison. I have never heard, and have suffered much anxiety on 
their account. My best respects to them, if they are to be seen 
by you. 


Philadelphia, 18 June, 1775. 

Dear Sir, — I have at last obtained liberty, by a vote of 
Congress, to acquaint my friends with a few of the things' that 
have been done. 

The Congress have voted, or rather a committee of the whole 
house have unanimously agreed, that the suni of two million 
dollars be issued in bills of credit, for the redemption of which, 
in a certain number of years, twelve colonies have unanimously 
pledged themselves. 

The Congress has likewise resolved that fifteen thousand men 
shall be supported at the expense of the continent ; ten thou- 
sand at Massachusetts, and five thousand at New York ; and 
that ten companies of riflemen be sent immediately, six from 
Pennsylvania, two from Maryland, and two from Virginia, con- 
sisting of sixty-eight privates in each company, to join our army 
at Boston. These are said to be all exquisite marksmen, and 


by means of the excellence of their firelocks, as well as their 
skill in the use of them, to send sure destruction to greett dis- 

General Washington is chosen commander-in-chief, General 
Ward the first major-general, and General Lee the second, (the 
last has not yet accepted,) and Major Gates adjutant-general. 
Lee and Gates are experienced officers. We have proceeded 
no further as yet. 

I have never, in all my lifetime, suffered more anxiety than 
in the conduct of this business. The choice of officers, and 
their pay, have given me great distress. Lee and Gates are offi- 
cers of such great experience and confessed abilities, that I 
thought their advice, in a council of officers, might be of great 
advantage to us ; but the natural prejudices, and virtuous at- 
tachment of our countrymen to their own officers, made me ap- 
prehensive of difficulties. But considering the earnest desire 
of General Washington to have the assistance of these officers, 
the extreme attachment of many of our best friends in the 
southern colonies to them, the reputation they would give to 
our arms in Europe, and especially with the ministerial gene- 
rals and army in Boston, as well as the real American merit of 
them both, I could not withhold my vote from either. 

The pay wdiich has been voted to all the officers, which the 
Continental Congress intends to choose, is so large, that I fear 
our people will think it extravagant, and be uneasy. Mr. 
Adams, Mr. Paine, and myself, used our utmost endeavors to 
reduce it, but in vain. 

Those ideas of eg^uality, which are so agreeable to us natives 
of New England, are very disagreeable to many gentlemen in 
the other colonies. They had a great opinion of the high im- 
portance of a continental general, and were determined to place 
him in an elevated point of light. They think the Massachu- 
setts establishment too high for the privates, and too low for 
the officers, and they would have their own way. 

I hope the utmost politeness and respect will be shown to 
these officers on their arrival. The whole army, I think, should 
be drawn up upon the occasion, and ail the pride, pomp, and 
circumstance of glorious war displayed ; — no powder burned^ 

There is something charming to me in the conduct of Wash- 


ington. A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the con- 
tinent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, 
sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his coun- 
try ! His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when 
he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us an 
exac t account of his expenses, and not accept a shilling for_ 
pay. The express waits. 


Philadelphia, June, 1775. 

In compliance with your request, I have considered of what 
you proposed, and am obliged to give you my sentiments very 
briefly, and in great haste. 

In general. Sir, there will be three committees, either of a 
Congress, or of a House of Representatives, which are and will 
be composed of our best men, such whose judgment and integ- 
rity may be most relied on. I mean the committee on the state 
of the province, the committee of safety, and the committee 
of supplies. 

But lest this should be too general, I beg leave to mention 
particularly James Warren, Esquire, of Plymouth, Joseph Haw- 
ley, Esquire, of Northampton, John Winthrop, Esquire, LL. D., 
of Cambridge, Dr. Warren, Dr. Church, Colonel Palmer, of 
Braintree, Elbridge Gerry, Esquire, of Marblehead. Mr. Bow- 
doin, Mr. Sever, Mr. Dexter, lately of the council, will be found 
to be very worthy men, as well as Mr. Pitts, who, I am sorry to 
hear, is in ill health. The recommendations of these gentlemen 
may be relied on. 

Our president was pleased to recommend to you Mr. William 
Bant for one of your aides-de-camp. I must confess I know 
not where to find a gentleman of iTiore merit, and better quali- 
fied for such a place. 

Mr. Paine was pleased to mention to you Mr. William Tudor, 
a young gentleman of the law, for a secretary to the General. 

' This is taken from -what would seem to have been the original letter, so that 
it is uncertain whether it was ever delivered. It may have been superseded by 
a personal conference. It was written probably on the 19th or 20th. 


And all the rest of my brothers, you may remember, very cheer- 
fully concurred with him. His abilities and virtues are such, as 
must recommend him to every man who loves modesty, inge- 
nuity, or fidelity. But as I find an interest has been made in 
behalf of Mr. Trumbull, of Connecticut, I must submit the de- 
cision to your further inquiries, after you shall arrive at Cam- 
bridge. Mr. Trumbull's merit is such, that I dare not say a 
word against his pretensions. I only beg to say, that Mr. Tudor 
is an exile from a good employment and fair prospects, in the 
town of Boston, driven by that very tyranny against which we 
are all contending. 

There is another gentleman of liberal education and real ge- 
nius, as well as great activity, who, I find, is a major in the army. 
His name is Jonathan Williams Austin. I mention him, Sir, not 
so much for the sake of recommending him to any particular 
favor, as to give the General an opportunity of observing a youth 
of great abilities, and of reclaiming him from certain follies 
which have hitherto, in other departments of life, obscured him. 

There is another gentleman, whom I presume to be in the 
army, either as a captain, or in some higher station, whose name 
is William Smith. As this young gentleman is my brother-in- 
law, I do not recommend him for any other place than that in 
which the voice of his country has placed him. But the coun- 
tenance of the General, as far as his conduct shall deserve it, 
which in an army is of great importance, will be gratefully ac- 
knowledged as a particular obligation by his brother.^ 

With great sincerity I wish you an agreeable journey, and a 
successful, a glorious campaign ; and am, with great esteem, &c. 


Philadelphia, 29 July, 1775. 

I had yesterday the honor of yoiu" letter of July 11th, 
and I feel myself much obliged by your kind attention to me 
and my family, but much more by your care for the public 

1 It is a curious coincidence that, Avhilst Mr. Adams, at Philadelphia, was 
recommending his wife's brother to General Washington, Mrs. Adams, from 
Braintree, was asking a commission for her husband's brother, in a letter to the 
council yet preserved in the archives of Massachusetts. 

correspondp:nce. 361 

safety, and the judicious and important observations you have 
made. Your letters, Sir, so far from being " a burthen," I con- 
sider as an honor to me, besides the pleasure and instruction 
they afford me. Believe me, Sir, nothing is of more importance 
to me, in my present most arduous and laborious employment, 
than a constant correspondence with gentlemen of experience, 
whose characters are known. ' The minutest fact, the most tri- 
vial event, that is connected with the great American cause, 
becomes important in the present critical situation of affairs, 
when a revolution seems to be in the designs of providence, as 
important as any that ever happened in the affairs of mankind. 
We jointly lament the loss of a Quincy and a Warren, two 
characters as great, in proportion to their age, as any that 1 have 
ever known in America. Our country mourns the loss of both, 
and sincerely sympathizes with the feelings of the mother of 
the one, and the father of the other. They w*ere both my inti- 
mate friends, with whom I lived and conversed with pleasure 
and advantage. I was animated by them in the painful, dan- 
gerous course of opposition to the oppressions brought upon 
our country, and the loss of them has wounded me too deeply 
to be easily healed. Duke et decorum est pro patrid mori. The 
ways of heaven are dark and intricate, but you may remember 
the words which, many years ago, you and I fondly admired, 
and which, upon many occasions, I have found advantage in 

" Why should I grieve, when grieving I must bear, 
And take with guilt, what guiltless I might share ? " 

I have a great opinion of your knowledge and judgment, from 
long experience, concerning the channels and islands in Boston 
harbor; but I confess your opinion, that the harbor might be 
blocked up, and seamen and soldiers made prisoners at discre- 
tion, was too bold and enterprising for me, who am not very 
apt to startle at a daring proposal ; but I believe I may safely 
promise you powder enough, in a little time, for any purpose 
whatever. We are assured, in the strongest manner, of salt- 
petre and powder in sufficient plenty, another year, of our own 
make. That both are made in this city, you may report with 
confidence, for I have seen both ; and I have seen a set of very 
large powder works, and another of saltpetre. 

VOL. IX. 31 


I hope, Sir, we shall never see a total stagnation of commerce 
for any length of time. Necessity will force open our ports ; 
trade, if I mistake not, will be more free than usual. Your 
friend. Dr. Franklin, to whom I read your letter, and who de- 
sires his kind compliments to you, has been employed in direct- 
ing the construction of row-galleys for this city. The committee 
of safety for this province have ordered twenty of them to be 
built ; some of them are finished. I have seen one of them ; it 
has twelve oars on each side. They rowed up the river the 
first time, four miles in an hour, against a tide which ran down 
four miles an hour. The Congress have recommended to the 
colonies to make provision for the defence of their navigation 
in their harbors, rivers, and on their sea-coasts. Of a floating 
battery I have no idea — am glad you are contriving one. 

You tell me. Sir, that General Lee complained that " he did 
not find things as the Massachusetts delegates had represented 
them." What General Lee could mean by this. Sir, I know 
not. What particular he found different from the representa- 
tion, I do not know; nor do I know which delegate from the 
Massachusetts he received a mistaken representation from. I 
think he should have been particular, that he might not have 
run the risk of doing an injury. If General Lee should do in- 
justice to two of the Massachusetts delegates, he would commit 
ingratitude at the same time ; for to two of them he certainly 
owes his promotion in the American army, how great a hazard 
soever they ran in agreeing to it. I know him very thoroughly, 
I think, and that he will do great service in our army at the 
beginning of things, by forming it to order, skill, and discipline. 
But we shall soon have officers enough. 


Philadelphia, 5 November, 1775. 

I am under such restrictions, injunctions, and engagements 
of secrecy respecting every thing which passes in Congress, 
that I cannot communicate my own thoughts freely to my 
friends, so far as is necessary to ask their advice and opi- 
nions concerning questions, which many of them understand 


much better than I do. This, however, is an inconvenience 
which must be submitted to for the sake of superior advantages. 

But I must take the liberty to say, that I think we shall soon 
attend to maritime affairs and naval preparations. No great 
things are to be expected at first, but out of a little a great deal 
may grow. 

It is very odd that I, who have spent my days in researches 
and employments so very different, and who have never thought 
much of old ocean, or the dominion of it, should be necessitated 
to make such inquiries; but it is my fate and my duty, and 
therefore I must attempt it.^ 

I am to inquire what number of seamen may be found in our 
province, who would probably enlist in the service, either as 
marines or on board of armed vessels, in the pay of the conti- 
nent or in the pay of the province, or on board of privateers, 
fitted out by private adventurers. 

I must also entreat you to let me know the names, places of 
abode, and characters of such persons belonging to any of the 
seaport towns in our province, as are qualified for officers and 
commanders of armed vessels. 

I want to be further instructed what ships, brigantines, 
schooners, &C.5 are to be found in any port of the province, to 
be sold or hired out, which will be suitable for armed vessels ; 
what their tonnage, the depth of water they draw, their breadth, 
their decks, &c., and to whom they belong, and what is their age. 
Further, what places in our province are most secure and best 
accommodated for Jruilding new vessels of force, in case a 
measure of that kind should be thought of. 

The committee have returned much pleased with what they 
have seen and heard, which shows that their embassy will be 
productive of happy effects. They say the only disagreeable 
circumstance was, that their engagements, haste, and constant 
attention to business was such as prevented them from forming 
such acquaintances with the gentlemen of our province as they 
wished. But as Congress was waiting for their return before 
they could determine upon affairs of the last moment, they had 
not time to spare.^ 

1 Compare the Autobiograpliy, vol. iii. pp. 6-11. 

2 Mr. Lynch, Dr. Frankhn, and Mr. Harrison had been chosen a committee 
of Congress, to repair to camp at Cambridge, on business connected with the 
maintenance of the army. 


They are pretty well convinced, I believe, of several import- 
ant points, which they and others doubted before. 

New Hampshire has leave to assume a government, and so 
has South Carolina ; but this must not be freely talked of as 
yet, at least from me. 

New England will now be able to exert her strength, which 
a little time will show to be greater than either Great Britain 
or America imagines. I give you joy of the agreeable prospect 
in Canada. We have the colors of the seventh regiment as the 
first fruits of victory. 


Brookfield, 14 November, 1775. 

En passant, as Church said in his letter to the regulars, 
" remember, I never deceived you." If your Congress does not 
give better encouragement to the privates than at present is 
held forth to them, you will have no winter army. There must 
be some small bounty given them on the enlistment. A 
strange mistaken opinion obtains among the gentlemen of the 
army from the southward, and if I mistake not, in your Con- 
gress, that our privates have too high wages, and the officers 
too low. 

Another thing I just hint. That if your Congress go about 
to repeal or explain away the resolutions of the 18th of July 
last, respecting the method of appointing military officers, and 
vest our council solely with that power, it will throw the colony 
into the utmost confusion, and end in the destruction of the 
council.^ I have wrote Mr. S. Adams on the last head. I am 
with great regard,^ &c. 

Joseph Hawley. 

I 1 The resolutions relating to this point are as follows : 

" That all officers above the rank of a captain be appointed by the respective 
provincial assemblies or conventions, or in their recess by the committees of 
safety appointed by said assemblies or conventions. 

" Where, in any colony, a militia is already formed under regulations approved 
of by the convention of such colony, or by such assemblies as arc annually 
elective, we refer to the discretion of such convention or assembly, either to 
adopt the foregoing regulations in the whole or in part, or to continue their 
former, as they, on consideration of all circumstances, shall think best." 

2 Indorsed on the back of this letter by Mr. Adams : 

"Received this letter at dinner, 4 o'clock, Saturday, 25th November, 1775. 



Philadelphia, 23 November, 1775. 

Sir, — I had the honor of your letter of November 11th by- 
express, and am very sorry to learn that any difference of sen- 
timent has arisen between the two honorable houses respecting 
the militia bill, as it is so necessary at this critical moment for 
the public service. 

If I was of opinion that any resolution of Congress now in 
force was against the claim of the Honorable House, as the 
Honorable Board have proposed that we should lay the ques- 
tion before Congress, I should think it my duty to do it. But 
it appears to me that, supposing the two resolutions to clash, 
the last ought to be considered as binding, and as by this, it is 
left in the " discretion of the assembly either to adopt the fore- 
going resolutions in the whole or in part, or to continue their 
former, as they on consideration of all circumstances shall think 
fit," I think it plain that the Honorable Board may comply 
with the desire of the Honorable House, if in their discretion 
they think fit. 

I am the more confirmed in the opinion that it is unnecessary 
to lay this matter before Congi-ess, as they have lately advised 
the colonies of New Hampshire, and one more, if they think it 
necessary, to establish such forms of government as they shall 
judge best calculated to promote the happiness of the people. 
Besides, the Congress are so pressed with business, and en- 
gaged upon questions of greater moment, that I should be 
unwilling, unless in a case of absolute necessity, to interrupt 
them by a question of this kind, not to mention that I would 
not wish to make known, so publicly and extensively, that a 
controversy had so soon arisen between the branches of our 
new government. 

I have had frequent consultations with my colleagues since 

Yesterday morning, i. e. Friday, November 24th, Paul Revere went off from this 
jjlace with my letter to the Board, in which I gave it as my opinion that the 
council might give up the point in dispute with the House about the appoint- 
ment of militia officers, and that the resolution of Congress mentioned in this 
letter was so clear that we need not apply to that assembly for any explanation." 
' The elder, as President of the Council, which had proposed that its dispute 
with the House about the right of appointing military officers should be sub- 
mitted to the consideration of the continental Concress. 



the receipt of your letter upon this subject; but as we are not 
unanimous,! I think it my duty to write my private sentiments 
as soon as possible. If either of my colleagues shall think fit 
to propose the questiooi to Congress, I shall there give my can- 
did opinion, as I have done to you. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect to the Honorable 
Board, &c. 


Philadelphia, 25 November, 1775. 

This afternoon, at five o'clock, I received your kind letter of 
November 14th, dated at Brookfield, which was the more agree- 
able because such favors from you, short as this is, are very 

You tell me. Sir, that " we shall have no winter army, if our 
Congress does not give better encouragement to the privates than 
at present is held forth to them," and that " there must be some 
small bounty given them on the enlistment." What encourage- 
ment ifi held forth, or at least has been, I know not ; but before 
this time, no doubt, they have been informed of the ultimatum 
of the Congress. No bounty is offered. Forty shillings lawful 
money per month, after much altercation, is allowed. It is un- 
doubtedly true that an opinion prevails among the gentlemen 
of the army from the southward, and indeed throughout all the 
colonies, excepting New England, that the pay of the privates 
is too high, and that of the officers too low; so that you may 
easily conceive the difficulties we have had to surmount. You 
may depend upon it that this has cost many an anxious day 
and night ; and the utmost that could be done, has been. We 
cannot suddenly alter the temper, principles, opinions, or preju- 
dices of men. The characters of gentlemen in the four New 
England colonies, differ as much from those in the others, as 
that of the common people differs; that is, as much as several 

^ Samuel Adams wrote to the same effect. Messrs. Hancock and Gushing 
were in favor of submitting the matter to the consideration of Congress, and 
addressed a joint letter, explaining their -views, to the council. All the letters 
are in the archives of Massachusetts. 


distinct nations almost. Gentlemen, men of sense or any kind 
of education, in the other colonies, are much fewer in proportion 
than in New England. 

Gentlemen in other colonies have large plantations of slaves, 
and the common people among them are very ignorant and 
very poor. These gentlemen are accustomed, habituated to 
higher notions of themselves, and the distinction between them 
and the common people, than we are. And an instantaneous 
alteration of the character of a colony, and that temper and 
those sentiments which its inhabitants imbibed with their mo- 
ther's milk, and which have grown with their growth and 
strengthened with their strength, cannot be made without a mi- 
racle. I dread the consequences of this dissimilitude of charac- 
ter, and without the utmost caution on both sides, and the most 
considerate forbearance Avith one another, and prudent conde- 
scension on both sides, they will certainly be fatal. An alter- 
ation of the southern Constitutions, which must certainly take 
place if this war continues, will gi-adually bring all the continent 
nearer and nearer to each other in all respects. But this is the 
most critical moment we have yet seen. This winter will cast 
the die. For God's sake, therefore, reconcile our people to what 
has been done, for you may depend upon it that nothing more 
can be done here, and I should shudder at the thought of pro- 
posing a bounty. A burnt child dreads the fire. The pay of 
the officers is raised ; that of a captain to twenty-six dollars and 
one third per month. Lieutenants and ensigns in proportion. 
Regimental officers not raised. 

You then hint that " if Congress should repeal or explain 
away the resolutions of 18th July, respecting the appointment 
of military officers, and vest the council with the sole power, 
it would throw the colony into confusion, and end in the de- 
struction of the council." 

The day before yesterday I wrote a letter to the Honorable 
Board, in answer to one from their President, by order, to us 
upon that subject, which letter Revere carried from this city 
yesterday morning. Therein I candidly gave my opinion to 
their honors, that our resolution was clear and plain, that the 
colony might use its own discretion, and therefore that they 
might yield this point to the House. And that the point was 
so plain, I did not see the least occasion for laying the contro- 


versy before Congress. But, my dear friend, I must take the 
freedom to tell you, that the same has happened upon this oc- 
casion, which has happened upon a thousand others. After 
taking a great deal of pains with my colleague, your friend Mr, 
Gushing, I could not get him to agree with the rest of us in 
writing a joint letter, nor could I get him to say what opinion 
he would give, if it was moved in Congress. What he has 
written I know not. But it is very hard to be linked and yoked 
jeternally with people, who have either no opinions, or opposite 

•opinions, and to be plagued with the opposition of our own 
colony to the most necessary measures, at the same time that 
you have all the monarchical superstition and the aristocratical 
domination of nine other colonies to contend with.^ 


Philadelphia, 25 Norember, 1775. 

Madam, — I had the pleasure of yours of Nov. 4th, several 
days ago. 

You know. Madam, that I have no pleasure or amusement 
which has any charms for me. Balls, assemblies, concerts, 
cards, horses, dogs, never engaged any part of my attention or 
concern. Nor am I ever happy in large and promiscuous com-^ 
_£anies. Business alone, with the intimate, unreserved conver- 
sation of a very few friends, books, and familiar correspondence, 
have ever engaged all my time ; and I have no pleasure, no 
ease, in any other way. In this place, I have no opportunity 
to meddle with books, only in the way of business. The con- 
versation I have here, is all in the ceremonious, reserved, impe- 
netrable way. 

Thus I have sketched a character for myself, of a morose 
philosopher and a surly politician, neither of which is very 
amiable or respectable, but, yet there is too much truth in it, 
and from it you will easily believe that I have very little plea- 
sure here, excepting in the correspondence of my friends ; and 
among these, I assure you, Madam, there is none whose letters 

' Copy incomplete. 

2 The wife of James Warren, and the sister of James Otis. 


I read with more j)leasure and instruction than yours. I wish 
it was in my power to write you oftener than 1 do, but I am 
really engaged in constant business from seven to ten in the 
morning in committee, from ten to four in Congress, and from 
six to ten again in committee. Our assembly is scarcely nume- 
rous enough for the business ; everybody is engaged, all day in 
Congress, and all the morning and evening in committees. I 
mention this. Madam, as an apology for not writing you so 
often as I ought; and as a reason for my request that you would 
not wait for my answers. 

The dispute you mention between the House and Board, I 
hope will be easily settled. Yet I believe the Board acted with 
great honor and integrity, and with a wise design and a virtuous ■ 
resolution to do nothing that should endanger the Union. But 
I am clear that it is best the two Houses should join in the ap- 
pointment of officers of militia, and I am equally clear that the 
resolve of Congress was intended to leave it to the discretion 
of the colony to adopt such a mode as should please themselves ; 
and I have done myself the honor to write these sentiments to 
the Board, who were pleased to write to us upon the occasion. 

Am obliged to you for your account of the state of things in 
Boston. I am ever anxious about our friends who remain there, 
and nothing is ever more acceptable to me than to learn what 
passes there. 

The inactivity of the two armies is not very agreeable to me. 
Fabius's cunctando was wise and brave. But, if I had submit- 
ted to it in his situation, it would have been a cruel mortifica- 
tion to me. Zeal, and fire, and activity, and enterprise, strike 
my imagination too much. I am obliged to be constantly on 
my guard ; yet the heat within will burst forth at times. 

The characters drawn in your last, entertained me very agree- 
ably. They were taken off by a nice and penetrating eye. I 
hope you will favor me with more of these characters. I wish 
I could draw a number of characters for your inspection. I 
should, perhaps, daub on the paint too thick, but the features 
would be very strong. 

The General 1 is amiable, and accomplished, and judicious, 
and cool ; you will soon know the person and character of his 
lady. I hope she has as much ambition for her husband's glory 

^ Washington 


as Portia and Marcia^ have, and then — the Lord have mercy 
on the souls of Howe and Burgoyne, and all the troops in 
Boston I 


Watertown, G January, 1776. 

As your Excellency has asked my opinion of General Lee's 
plan, as explained in his letter of the 5th instant, I think it my 
duty to give it, although I am obliged to do it in more haste 
than I could wish. 

I suppose the only questions which arise upon that letter, are, 
whether the plan is practicable, wliether it is expedient, and 
whether it lies properly within your Excellency's authority, 
without further directions from Congress. 

Of the practicability of it, I am very ill qualified to judge ; 
but were I to hazard a conjecture, it would be, that the enter- 
prise would not be attended with much difliculty. The Con- 
necticut people, who are very ready upon such occasions, in 
conjunction with the friends of liberty in New York, I should 
think might easily accomplish the work. 

That it is expedient, and even necessary to be done by some 
authority or other, I believe will not be doubted by any friend 
of the American caiise, who considers the vast importance of 
that City, Province, and the North River, which is in it, in the 
progress of this war. As it is the nexus of the northern and 
southern Colonies, as a kind of key to the whole continent, as 
it is a passage to Canada, to the Great Lakes, and to all the 
Indian nations, no effort to secure it ought to be omitted. 

That it is within the limits of your Excellency's command, 
is, in my mind, perfectly clear. Your commission constitutes 
you commander of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, 
and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and 
join the army for the defence of American liberty, and for re- 
pelling every hostile invasion thereof; and you are vested with 
full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good 
and welfare of the service. 

' These were names by which ISIrs. Adams and Mrs. Warren were desig- 
nated in the familiar letters of their friends during the revolution. 


Now if upon Long Island there is a body of people, who 
have arms in their hands, and are intrenching themselves, pro- 
fessedly to oppose the American system of defence, who are 
supplying our enemies both of the army and navy, in Boston 
and elsewhere, as I suppose is undoubtedly the fact, no man 
can hesitate to say that this is a hostile invasion of American 
liberty, as much as that now made in Boston. Nay, those peo- 
ple are guilty of the very invasion in Boston, as they are con- 
stantly aiding, abetting, comforting, and assisting the army 
there, and that in the most essential manner, by supplies of 

If in the city a body of tories are waiting only for a force to 
protect them, to declare themselves on the side of our enemies, 
it is high time that city was secured. The Jersey troops have 
already been ordered into that city by the Congress, and are 
there undoubtedly under your command, ready to assist in this 
service. That New York is within your command, as much 
as the Massachusetts, cannot bear a question. Your Excel- 
lency's superiority in the command over the Generals in the 
Northern Department, as it is called, has been always carefully 
preserved in Congress, although the necessity of despatch has 
sometimes induced them to send instructions directly to them, 
instead of first sending them to your Excellency, which would 
have occasioned a circuit of many hundreds of miles, and have 
lost much time. 

Upon the whole. Sir, my opinion is, that General Lee's is a 
very useful proposal, and will answer many good ends. 


Philadelphia, 15 January, 1776. 

Although I have at present but little leisure, I cannot omit 
writing you a few lines by this express. I have seen certain in- 
structions which were given by the capital of the colony of 
New Hampshire to its delegates in their provincial congrega- 
tion, the spirit of which I am not altogether pleased with. 
There is one part of them, at least, which I think discovers a 


timidity wliich is unbecoming a people oppressed and insulted 
as they are, and who, at their own request, have been advised 
and authorized by Congress to set up and exercise government 
in such form as they should judge most conducive to their own 
happiness. It is easy to understand what they mean, when 
they speak of " perfecting a form of government stable and per- 
manentP They indeed explain themselves, by saying that " tliey 
sliould prefer the government of Congress [i\\e\x provincial con- 
vention) till quieter times." The reason they assign for it, I 
fear, will be considered as showing a readiness to condescend 
to the humors of their enemies ; and their publicly, expressly, 
and totally disavowing independence, either on the nation, or 
the man who insolently and perseveringly demands the surren- 
der of their liberties, with the bayonet pointed at their breasts, 
may be considered to argue a servility and baseness of soul, 
for which language doth not afford an epithet. It is by indis- 
creet resolutions and publications, that the friends of America 
have too often given occasion to their enemies to injure her 
cause. I hope, however, that the town of Portsmouth doth not, 
in this instance, speak the sense of that colony. I wish, if it be 
not too late, that you would write your sentiments of the sub- 
ject to our worthy friend, Mr. L ^ who, I suppose, is now in 

Portsmouth. If that colony should take a wrong step, I fear it 
would wholly defeat a design, which, I confess, I have much at 

A motion was made in Congress the other day, to the follow- 
ing purpose ; " That, whereas we h ad been charged with aimin^;___ 
at independency, a committee should be appointed to explain 
to the people at large, the principles and grounds of our oppo- 
sition," &c. The motion alarmed me. I thought Congress had 
already been explicit enough, and was apprehensive that we 
might get ourselves upon dangerous ground. Some of us pre- 
vailed so far as to have the matter postponed, but could not 
prevent the assigning a day to consider it. I may perhaps have 
been wrong in opposing this motion ; and I ought the rather to 
suspect it, because the majority of your colony, as well as of 
the Congress, were of a different opinion. 

1 Langdou. The instructions alluded to are printed iu Force's American Ar- 
chives, 4th series, vol. iv. c. 459. 

2 See Gordon's History of the American War, vol. ii. pp. 1G8-171. The 
author, from the coincidence in the language, must have had access to this lettei*. 


I had lately some free conversation with an eminent gentle- 
man, whom you well know, and who m your Portia in one of 
her letters admired, if I recollect right, for his expressive silence, 
about a confederation ; a matter which our much valued friend 

Colonel W , is very solicitous to have completed.^ We 

agreed that it must soon be brought on, and that if all the colo- 
nies could not come into it, it had better be done by those of 
them that inclined to it. I told him that I would endeavor to 
unite the New England colonies in confederating, if none of the 
rest would join in it. He approved of it, and said, if I suc- 
ceeded, he would cast in his lot among us. Adieu. 

16 January. 

As this express did not set off yesterday, according to my 
expectation, I have the opportunity of acquainting you, that 
Congress has just received a letter from General Washington, 
inclosing the copy of an application of our general assembly to 
him, to order payment to four companies stationed at Braintree, 
Weymouth, and Hingham. The General says they were never 
regimented, and he cannot comply with the request of the as- 
sembly, without the direction of Congress. A committee is 
appointed to consider the letter, of which I am one. I fear 
there will be a difficulty, and therefore I shall endeavor to pre- 
vent a report on this part of the letter, unless I shall see a pros- 
pect of justice being done to the colony, till I can receive from 
you authentic evidence of those companies having been ac- 
tually employed by the continental officers, as I conceive they 
have been, in the service of the continent. I wish you would 
inform me whether the two companies stationed at Chelsea and 
Maiden were paid out of the continent's chest. I suppose 
they were, and if so, I cannot see reason for any hesitation 
about the payment of these. I wish also to know how many 
men our colony is at the expense of maintaining for the defence 
of its sea-coasts. Pray let me have some intelligence from you 
of the colony which we represent. You are sensible of the 
danger it has frequently been in of suffering greatly for want 
of regular information. 

1 The first allusion is to Dr. Franklin; the second, probably, to George 
Wythe, as Gordon says the person was from Virginia. 





Philadelphia, 29 April, 1776. 

Sir, — As the day of the general election draws nigh, I think 
it my duty to express my grateful acknowledgments to the 
honorable electors of the last year, for the honor they did me in 
choosing me into the council. My station in the continental 
Congress has made it impossible for me to attend my duty at 
the honorable board ; and as the same cause must prevent my 
attendance during a great part of the ensuing year, and the 
dangers and distresses of the times will require the assistance 
of the whole number, I cannot think it becoming in me to de- 
prive the colony of the advice of a counsellor, for the sake of 
keeping open a seat for me. I must therefore beg the favor of 
you, to make my resignation known to the two honorable 
Houses, and request them to choose another gentleman to that 
honorable seat, who will be able to discharge the duties of it. 

I am, with great respect to the two honorable Houses, Sir, 
your most obedient and very humble servant, 

John Adams. 


Williamsburgh, 18 May, 1776. 

Inclosed you have a printed resolve, which passed our conven- 
tion, to the infinite joy of our people. The resolve for independ- 
ency has not that peremptory and decided air I could wish.^ 
Perhaps the proviso which reserves to this colony the power of 
forming its own government, may be questionable as to its fit- 
ness. Would not a uniform plan of government, prepared for 
America by the Congress, and approved by the colonies, be a 
surer foundation of unceasing harmony to the whole ? How^- 
ever, such as they are, the exultation here was extreme. The 
British flag on the capitol was immediately struck, and the 
continental hoisted in its room. The troops were drawn out, 
and we had a discharge of artillery and small arms. 

' It is moderate in tone, but sufliciently comprehensive. It is printed in 
Force's American Archives, 4th series, vol. vi. c. 1524. 


If Hopkins's fleet were in Chesapeake Bay, Dunmore's fleet 
might be taken. My compliments to Mr. S. Adams and Mr. 
Paine. I am, Sir, your respectful, humble servant, 

Richard H. Lee. 


Philadelpliia, 26 May, 1776. 

Your favors of May 9th and 17th are now before me ; and I 
consider them as the commencement of a correspondence which 
will not only give me pleasure, but may be of service to the 
public, as in my present station I stand in need of the best in- 
telligence, and the advice of every gentleman of abilities and 
public principles in the colony which has seen fit to place me 

Our worthy friend, Mr, Gerry, has put into my hands a letter 
from you, of the sixth of May, in which you consider the prin- 
ciples of representation and legislation, and give us hints of 
"some alterations, which you seem to think necessary, in the 
qualification of voters. 

I wish. Sir, I could possibly find time to accompany you, in 
your investigation of the principles upon which a representative 
assembly stands, and ought to stand, and in your examination 
whether the practice of our colony has been conformable to 
those principles. But, alas ! Sir, my time is so incessantly en- 
grossed by the business before me, that I cannot spare enough 
to go through so large a field; and as to books, it is not easy 
to obtain them here ; nor could I find a moment to look into 
them, if I had them. 

It is certain, in theory, that the only moral foundation of go- 
vernment is, the consent of the people. But to what an ex- 
tent shall we carry this principle ? Shall we say that every 
individual of the community, old and young, male and female, 
as well as rich and poor, must consent, expressly, to every act 
of legislation ? No, you will say, this is impossible. How, 
then, does the right arise in the majority to govern the minority, 
against their will? Whence arises the right of the men to 
govern the women, without their consent? Whence the right 
of the old to bind the young, without theirs ? 



But let us first suppose that the whole community, of every 
age, rank, sex, and condition, has a right to vote. This com- 
munity is assembled. A motion is made, and carried by a major- 
ity of one voice. The minority will not agree to this. Whence 
arises the right of the majority to govern, and the obligation of 
the minority to obey ? 

From necessity, you will say, because there can be no other 

But why exclude women ? 

You will say, because their delicacy renders them unfit for 
practice and experience in the gi'eat businesses of life, and the 
hardy enterprises of war, as well as the arduous cares of state. 
Besides, their attention is so much engaged with the necessary 
nurture of their children, that nature has made them fittest for 
domestic cares. And children have not judgment or will of their 
own. True. But will not these reasons apply to others ? Is it 
not equally true, that men in general, in every society, who are 
wholly destitute of property, are also too little acquainted with 
public affairs to form a right judgment, and too dependent upon 
other men to have a will of their own ? If this is a fact, if 
you give to every man who has no property, a vote, will you 
not make a fine encouraging provision for corruption, by your 
fundamental law ? Such is the frailty of the human heart, that 
very few men who have no property, have any judgment of 
their own. They talk and vote as they are directed by some 
man of property, who has attached their minds to his interest. 

Upon my word, Sir, I have long thought an army a piece of 
clock-work, and to be governed only by principles and maxims, 
as fixed as any in mechanics ; and, by all that I have read in 
the history of mankind, and in authors who have speculated 
upon society and government, I am much inclined to think a 
government must manage a society in the same manner ; and 
that this is machinery too. 

Harrington has shown that power always follows property. 
This I believe to be as infallible a maxim in politics, as that 
action and reaction are equal, is in mechanics. Nay, I believe 
we may advance one step farther, and affirm that the balance 
of power in a society, accompanies the balance of property in 
land. The only possible way, then, of preserving the balance 
of power on the side of equal liberty and public virtue, is to 


make the acquisition of land easy to every member of society ; 
to make a division of the land into small quantities, so that the 
multitude may be possessed of landed estates. If the multi- 
tude is possessed of the balance of real estate, the multitude 
will have the balance of pawer, and in that case the multitude 
Avill take care of the liberty, virtue, and interest of the multi- 
tude, in all acts of government. 

I believe these principles have been felt, if not understood, in 
the Massachusetts Bay, from the beginning ; and therefore I 
should think that wisdom and policy would dictate in these 
times to be very cautious of making alterations. Our people 
have never been very rigid in scrutinizing into the qualifications 
of voters, and I presume they will not now begin to be so. 
Sut I would not advise them to make any alteration in the laws, 
at present, respecting the qualifications of voters. 

Your idea that those laws which affect the lives and personal 
liberty of all, or which inflict corporal punishment, affect those 
who are not qualified to vote, as well as those who are, is just. 
But so they do women, as well as men; children, as well as 
adults. What reason should there be for excluding a man of 
twenty years eleven months and twenty-seven days old, from a 
vote, when you admit one who is twenty-one ? The reason is, 
you must fix upon some period in life, when the understanding 
and will of men in general, is fit to be trusted by the public. 
Will not the same reason justify the state in fixing upon some 
certain quantity of property, as a qualification ? 

The same reasoning which will induce you to admit all men 
who have no property, to vote, with those who have, for those 
laws which affect the person, will prove that you ought to admit 
women and children ; for, generally speaking, women and child- 
ren have as good judgments, and as independent minds, as 
those men who are wholly destitute of property ; these last 
being to all intents and purposes as much dependent upon 
others, who will please to feed, clothe, and employ them, as 
women are upon their husbands, or children on their parents. 

As to your idea of proportioning the votes of men, in money 
matters, to the property they hold, it is utterly impracticable. 
There is no possible way of ascertaining, at any one time, how 
much every man in a community is worth ; and if there was, 
so fluctuating is trade and property, that this state of it would 



change in half an hour. The property of the whole commu- 
nity is shifting every hour, and no record can be kept of the 

Society can be governed only by general rules. Government 
cannot accommodate itself to every particular case as it hap- 
pens, nor to the circumstances of particular persons. It must 
establish general comprehensive regulations for cases and per- 
sons. The only question is, which general rule will accommo- 
date most cases and most persons. 

Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a 
source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by at- 
tempting to alter the qualifications of vt)t^rs ; there will be no 
end of it. New claims will arise ; women will demand a vote ; 
lads from twelve to twenty-one will think their rights not 
enough attended to ; and every man who has not a farthing, 
will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. 
It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate 
all ranks to one common level. 


Philadelphia, 29 May, 1776. 

Your agreeable favor of 20th May, was handed me yester- 
day, and it gave me much pleasure, on various accounts ; one 
particularly, as it gave me evidence of your existence, which 
for some time past you have suffered to remain problematical. 
I have long expected letters from you, but yet I cannot find 
fault, because I believe I am much in your debt. However, if 
you had considered the situation I am in, surrounded with de- 
mands for all, and more than all, my time, you would not have 
waited for regular payments from me. 

I am sorry to see you complain of suspicions. I hoped they 
were forgotten. Indeed, I think that upon your return they 
ought to have vanished.^ I have none, nor am I in the least 
degree afraid of censure on your account, nor of losing a thread 
of influence. Fortified in innocence, a man should set ground- 

' This alludes to the letters intercepted in the hands of Mr. Hichborn. See 
the Diary, vol. ii. p. 411. 


less censures at defiance ; and as to influence, the more a man 
has of it, at least of such as mine, if I have any, the more un- 
fortunate he is. If by influence is understood the power of do- 
ing good to the public, or of serving men of merit, this influ- 
ence is devoutly to be wished by every benevolent mind. Bat 
very little of this kind of influence has ever fallen to my share. 
* ****** 

I am much pleased with your spirited project of driving away 
the wretches from the harbor, and never shall be happy till I 
hear it is done, and the very entrance fortified impregnably. I 
cannot bear that an unfriendly flag or mast should be in sight 
of Bacon Hill. 

You are " checked by accounts from the southward, of a dis- 
position in a great majority to counteract independence." Read 
the proceedings of Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Vir- 
ginia, and then judge. The middle colonies have never tasted 
the bitter cup ; they have never smarted, and are therefore a lit- 
tle cooler ; but you will see that the colonies are united indis- 
solubly. Maryland has passed a few eccentric resolves, but 
these are only flashes which will soon expire.^ The proprietary 
governments are not only encumbered with a large body of 
Quakers, but are embarrassed by a proprietary interest; both 
together clog their operations a little, but these clogs are falling 
off, as you will soon see. 

I dread the spirit of innovation which I fear will appear in 
our new and numerous representative body. It is much to be 
desired that their attention may at present be more fixed upon 
the defence of the province and military operations, than upon 
opening sources of endless altercation. Unanimity, in this time 
of calamity and danger, is of great importance. You ask my 
sentiments of the political system to be adopted. My opinion, 
I am very certain, will not be followed. We have able men in 
"the colony, but I am much afraid they will not be heard. I 
hope a Governor and Lieutenant-Governor will be chosen ; and 
that- they will be respectable for their fortune, as well as abilities 
and integi-ity, if such can be found. The Judges, I hope, will 
be made independent both for the duration and emoluments of 

1 These resolves were passed on the 16th of May, confirming the instructions 
given in January preceding to the delegates, to oppose a declaration of inde- 
pendence. Force's American Archives^ Fourth series, vol. vi. c. 463. 


office. There is nothing of more importance than this, but yet 
there is nothing less likely to be done. 

How the representation will be settled, I cannot guess; but T 
really hope they will not attempt any material alteration in the 
qualification of voters. This will open a door for endless dis- 
putes, and I am much afraid, for numberless corruptions. 

I wish I could be at home at this important period. But you 
will remember that all the other colonies have Constitutions to 
frame, and what is of infinitely greater delicacy, intricacy, and 
importance, the continent has a Constitution to form. If I could 
be of some little use at home, I may be of more here at present. 

You kindly and politely express a concern for my health, and, 
if you have any regard for me, it is not without reason. I have 
been here four months, during which time I have never once 
been on horseback, and have found but little time to walk. 
Such uninterrupted attention to cares and perplexities of various 
kinds, is enough to destroy a more robust body than mine; but 
I cannot excuse myself from these duties, and I must march 
forward until it comes to my turn to fall. Indeed if a few 
things more were fully accomplished, I should think it my duty 
to ask leave of my constituents to return home to my garden. 

The moment I can see every colony in possession and actual 
exercise of all the powers of government, and a confederation 
well settled for all the colonies, under a Congress with powers 
clearly defined and limited, and sufficient preparation and pro- 
vision made for defence against the force which is coming 
against us, that moment I shall return to my family, from 
which I have been too long divorced. But whether my consti- 
tution will hold out so long, must be left to him that made it, 
to whose wisdom and goodness I cheerfully submit. 

N. B. The petition from the independent corps in Boston, 
gave me great pleasure, and is much to their honor. I did my 
endeavor to get the prayer granted, but it is at last left to 
the General. 



Philadelphia, 30 May, 1776. 

Yours of the 20th, was handed me by the last post. I con- 
gratulate you upon the first modern election, on the last Wed- 
nesday in May, of counsellors as at the first. I could not avoid 
indulging myself yesterday in imagination with my friends in 
Boston, upon an occasion so joyful. I presume you must have 
have had a very solemn and ceremonious election, and wish 
that no interruption may ever hereafter take place, like that of 
the last year. 

You have given me great pleasure by your account of the 
spirit and activity of our people, their skill and success in forti- 
fying the town and harbor. But there are several things still 
wanting, in my judgment. I never shall be happy until every 
unfriendly flag is driven out of sight, and the Light House Is- 
land, George's and Lovell's Islands, and the east end of Long 
Island, are secured. Fire-ships and rafts will be of no service, 
without something to cover and protect them from the boats of 
the men-of-war. Galleys are the best engines in the world for 
this purpose. Colonel Quincy has the best idea of these gal- 
leys, of any man I know. I believe he has a perfect idea of 
the Turkish and Venetian galleys ; some of these are as large 
as British men-of-war, but some are small. Galleys might be 
built and armed with heavy cannon, thirty-six or forty-two pound- 
ers, which would drive away a ship of almost any size, number 
of guns, or weight of metal. The dexterity of our people in 
sea matters, must produce great things, if it had any person to 
guide it, and stimulate it. A kind of dodging Indian fight might 
be maintained among the islands in our harbor, between such 
galleys and the men-of-war. 

Whether you have any person sufficiently acquainted with 
the composition of those combustibles which are usually put 
into fire-ships and rafts, I don't know. If you have not, it would 
be worth while to send some one here to inquire and learn. At 
least, let me know it; and although I have a demand upon me 
for an hour where I have a minute to spare, yet will I be at the 
pains, though I neglect other things, of informing myself as 
well as I can here, and send you what I learn. 


We are making the best provision we can for the defence of 
America. I believe we shall make provision for 70,000 men in 
thej;hree departments, the northern, including Canada, the mid- 
dle, and the southern. The die is cast. We must all be sol- 
diers, and fight pro avis etfocis. I hope there is not a gentle- 
man in the Massachusetts Bay, not even in the town of Boston, 
who thinks himself too good to take his firelock and his spade. 
Such imminent dangers level all distinctions. You must, before 
now, have seen some important resolutions of this Congress, as 
well as of separate colonies. Before many weeks, you will see 

Remember me, with every sentiment of friendship and re- 
spect, to all who deserve well of their country. These are all 
my friends, and I have and will have no other. 

P. S. Galleys to be used merely in Boston harbor, the less 
they are, the better, provided they are large and strong enough 
to sustain the weight of the gun, and the shock of the explo- 
sion. The galleys first built in Delaware River were too large 
to be handy, and too small to live and work in a sea. We are 
building two of a different construction. They are to carry two 
large guns in the stern, and two in front, and five or six three 
pounders on each side, besides swivels. They are built to put 
to sea, live and fight in a swell or a storm. They are narrow, 
but almost one hundred feet long. 


Philadelphia, 1 June, 1776. 

Your favors of May 14th and 22d are now before me. The 
first I showed to Mr. Morris, as soon as I received it. The last 
contains intelligence from Halifax of the straits to which our 
enemies are reduced, which I was very glad to learn. 

I am very happy to learn from you and some others of my 
friends, that Boston is securely fortified ; but still I cannot be 
fully satisfied until I hear that every unfriendly flag is chased 
out of that harbor. 

Cape Ann, I am sensible, is a most important post ; and if 


the enemy should possess themselves of it, they might distress 
the trade of the colony to a great degree. For which reason, I 
am determined to do every thing in my power to get it fortified 
at the continental expense. I can not be confident that I shall 
succeed, but it shall not be my fault if I do not. I am very 
glad you gave me your opinion of the utility of that harbor, 
and of the practicability of making it secure, because I was 
not enough acquainted with it before, to speak with precision 
about it. 

Your observations upon the oppressive severity of the old 
regulations of ti'ade, in subjecting ships and cargoes to confis- 
cation for the indiscretion of a master or mariner, and upon 
the artifice and corruption which was introduced respecting hos- 
pital money, are very just. But if you consider the resolution 
of Congress, and that of Virginia of the 15th of May, the reso- 
lutions of the two Carolinas and Georgia, each of which colo- 
nies are instituting new governments under the authority of the 
people ; if you consider what is doing at New York, New Jer- 
sey, Pennsylvania, and even in Maryland, which are all gradu- 
ally forming themselves into order to follow the colonies to the 
northward and southward, together with the treaties with Hesse, 
Brunswick, and Waldeck, and the answer to the mayor, &c., of 
London, I believe you will be convinced that there is little 
probability of our ever again coming under the yoke of British 
regulations of trade. The cords w^hich connected the two coun- 
tries are cut asunder, and it will not be easy to splice them 
again together. 

I agree with you in sentiment that there will be little diifi- 
culty in trading with France and Spain, a great deal in dealing 
with Portugal, and some with Holland. Yet, by very good in- 
telligence, I am convinced that there are great merchants in the 
United Provinces, and even in Amsterdam, who will contract to 
supply you with any thing you want, whether merchandise or 
military stores, by the way of Nieuport and Ostend, two towns 
which are subject to the Empress of Austria, who has never 
taken any public notice of the dispute between Britain and us, 
and has never prohibited her subjects from supplying us with 
any thing. 

There is a gentleman now in this city, a native of it, and a 
very worthy man, who has been lately in these towns, as well 


as Amsterdam, who informs ine that he had many conversa- 
tions there with merchants of figure, and that they assured him 
they should be glad to contract to furnish us with any supplies, 
even upon credit, for an interest of four per cent. Other intel- 
ligence to the same purpose, with additions of more import- 
ance, has been sent here. But the particulars may not be men- 

Europe seems to be in a great commotion. Although the ap- 
pearance of a perfect calm is affected, I think this American 
contest will light up a general war. What it will end in, God 
alone knows, to whose wise and righteous providence I cheer- 
fullv submit. 


Philadelpliia, 2 June, 1776. 

Your esteemed favor of the 16th of May, came to my hand a 
few days ago. 

You have laid me under obligations, by your ingenious ob- 
servations upon thos^ books upon military science, which are 
necessary to be procured in the present circumstances of this 
country. I have been a long time convinced of the utility of 
publishing American editions of those writers, and that it is an 
object of sufficient importance to induce the public to be at the 
expense of it. But greater objects press in such numbers upon 
those who think for the public, as St. Drummond^ expresses it, 
that this has been hitherto neglected. I could wish that the 
public would be at the expense, not only of new editions of 
these authors, but of establishing academies for the education 
of young gentlemen in every branch of th e military art ; be- 
cause I am fully of your sentiment, that we ought to lay foun- 
dations, and begin institutions, in the present circumstances of 
this country, for promoting every art, manufacture, and science, 
which is necessary for the support of an independent State. 
We must, for the future, stand upon our own legs, or fall. The 

' Vol. iii. p. 31 - 32, and the reference in the note. 


alienation of affection between the two countries, is at Icnsth 
so great, that if the morals of the British nation, and their poli- 
tical principles, were much purer than they are, it would be 
scarcely possible to accomplish a cordial reunion with them. 

The votes of the Congress, and the proceedings of the colo- 
nies, separately, must, before this time, have convinced you that 
this is the sense of America, with infinitely greater unanimity 
than could have been credited by many people, a few months 
ago. Those few persons, indeed, who have attended closely to 
the proceedings of the several colonies for a number of years 
past, and reflected deeply upon the causes of this mighty con- 
test, have foreseen that such an unanimity would take place as 
soon as a separation should become necessary. These are not 
at all surprised, while many others really are, and some affect 
to be, astonished at the phenomenon. 

The policy of Rome in carrying their arms to Carthage, while 
Hannibal was at the gates of their capital, was wise, and justi- 
fied by the event, and would deserve imitation, if we could 
march into the country of our enemies. But, possessed as they 
are of the dominion of the sea, it is not easy for us to reach 
them. Yet, it is possible that a bold attempt might succeed ; 
but we have not yet sufficient confidence in our own power or 
skill, to encourage enterprises of the daring, hardy kind. Such 
often prosper, and are always glorious. But shall I give offence 
if I say, that our arms have kept an even pace with our coun- 
sels ; that both have been rather slow and irresolute ? Have 
either our officers or men, by sea or land, as yet discovered that 
exalted courage and mature judgment, both of which are neces- 
sary for great and splendid actions ? Our forces have done 
very well, considering their poor appointments, and our infancy. 
But I may say to you, that I wish I could see less attention to 
trifles, and more to the great essentials of the service, both in 
the civil and military departments. I am no prophet, if we are 
not compelled by necessity, before the war is over, to become 
more men of business, and less men of pleasure. I have 
formed great expectations from a number of gentlemen of ge- 
nius, sentiment, and education, of the younger sort, whom I 
know to be in the army, and wish that additions might be made 
to the number. We have had some examples of magnanimity 
and bravery, it is true, which would have done honor to any 

VOL. IX. 33 Y 


age or country ; but these have been accompanied with a want 
of skill and experience which entitles the hero to compassion, 
at the same time that he has our admiration. For ray own 
part, I never thinlc of Warren or Montgomery, without lament- 
ing, at the same time that I admire, that inexperience to which 
perhaps they both owed their glory. 


Philadelpliia, 3 June, 1776. 

My Dear Sir, — I had this morning the pleasure of yours 
of 20 May.i The little pamphlet you mention is nuUivs filius ; 
and, if I should be obliged to maintain it, the world will not 
expect that I should own it. My motive for inclosing it to you, 
was not the value of the present, but as a token of friendship, 
and more for the sake of inviting your attention to the subject, 
than because there was any thing in it worthy your perusal. 
The subject is of infinite moment, and perhaps more than ade- 
quate to the abilities of any man in America. I know of none 
so competent to the task as theauthor of the first Virginia reso- 
Jutions against the stamp act, who will have the glory with pos- 
terity, of beginning and concluding this great revolutiwi^ 
Happy Virginia, whose Constitution is to be framed by so mas- 
terly a builder! Whether the plan of the pamphlet is not too 
popular, whether the elections are not too frequent for your 
colony, I know not. The usages, and genius, and manners of 
the people must be consulted. And if annual elections of the 
representatives of the people are sacredly preserved, those elec- 
tions by ballot, and none permitted to be chosen but inhabit- 
ants, residents as well as qualified freeholders of the city, county, 
parish, town, or borough, for which they are to serve, three es- 
sential prerequisites of a free government, the council, or mid- 
dle branch of the legislature may be triennial, or even septennial, 
without much inconvenience. 

I esteem it an honor and a happiness, that my opinion so 
often coincides with yours. It has ever appeared to me that 

1 This letter is printed in a note appended to the " Thoughts on Govern- 
niont," horn alhided to. Vol. iv. p. 201. 


the natural course and order of things was this ; for every colony 
to institute a government ; for all the colonies to confederate, 
and define the limits of the continental Constitution ; then to 
declare the colonies a sovereign state, or a number of confede- 
rated sovereign states ; and last of all, to form treaties with 
foreign powers. But I fear we cannot proceed systematically, 
and that we sha ll be obliged to d eclare ourselves independent 
States, before we confederate, and indeed before all the colonies 
have established their governments. 

I* is now pretty clear that all these measures will follow one 
another in a rapid succession, and it may not perhaps be of 
much importance which is done first. 

The importance of an immediate application to the French 
court, is clear ; and I am very much obliged to you for your hint 
of the route by the Mississippi. 

Your intimation that the session of your representative body 
would be long, gave me great pleasure, because we all look up 
to Virginia for examples ; and, in the present perplexities, dan- 
gers, and distresses of our countiy, it is necessary that the su- 
preme councils of the colonies should be almost constantly sit- 
ting. Some colonies are not sensible of this ; and they will 
certainly suffer for their indiscretion. Events of such magni- 
tude as those which present themselves now in such quick suc- 
cession, require constant attention and mature deliberation. 

The little pamphlet you mention, which was published here 
as_an antidote t o th e " Thoughts on Government," and which 
is whispered to have been the joint production of one native of 
Virginia, and two natives of New York, I know not how truly, 
will make no fortune in the world.^ It is too absurd to be con- 
sidered twice ; it is contrived to involve a colony in eternal 

The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sa- 
chems, the nabobs, call them by what name you please, sigh, 
and groan, and fret, and sometimes stamp, and foam, and curse, 
but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be re- 
called, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other 
parts of the earth, must be established in America. That exu- 

' "An Address to the Convention of the Colony and ancient dominion of 
Virginia, on the subject of government in general," &c. See vol. iv. p. 202, 

;j88 correspondencj:. 

berance of pride which has produced an insolent domination in 
a few, a very few, opulent, monopolizing families, will be 
brought down nearer to the confines of reason and moderation, 
than they have been used to. This is all the evil which they 
themselves will endure. It will do them good in this world, 
and in every other. For pride was not made for man, only as 
a tormentor. 

I shall ever be happy in receiving your advice by letter, luitil 
1 can be more completely so in seeing you here in person, which 
I hope will be soon. 


Philadelphia, 4 June, 1776. 

Yours of May 29, came safe to hand, and I am much pleased 
to find that your citizens have behaved with so much wisdom, 
unanimity, and spirit. Yet I was disappointed that you did 
not inclose their votes.^ 

I am very glad that Mr. J. is with you, and hope he will be 
of great service there ; but will he not be for making your go- 
vernor and counsellors for life, or during good behavior ? I 
should dread such a Constitution in these perilous times, be- 
cause however wise, and brave, and virtuous these rulers may 
be at their first appointment, their tempers and designs will 
be very apt to change, and then they may have it in their power 
to betray the people, who will have no means of redress. The 
people ought to have frequently the opportunity, especially in 
these dangerous times, of considering the conduct of their lead- 
ers, and of approving or disapproving. You will have no safety 
without it. 

The province of Pennsylvania is in a good way, and will 
soon become an important branch of the Confederation. The 
large body of the people will be possessed of more power and 

1 Mr. Hughes announced in his letter, that the citizens of New York " had a 
meeting on Monday evening last, when it was agreed, Avithout a dissenting 
voice, to instruct our Convention on that most important of all sublunary affairs, 
in order that application may be made to your honorable House." 

This probably refers to the vote of the General Committee of Mechanics in 
Union, of the city and county of New York, whose address is printed in Force's 
American Archives, 4th scries, vol. vi. c. 614. 


importance, and a proud junto of less ; and yet justice will, I 
hope, be done to all. 

I wish you happiness, promotion, and reputation in the ser- 


Philadelphia, 4 June, 177G. 

Sir, — Your favor of 18 May, inclosing the momentous reso- 
lution of your wise and patriotic convention, together with the 
American Crisis, came duly to hand, and yesterday I had the 
pleasure of receiving the proceedings of the House of Burgesses. 
I thank you, Sir, for both these esteemed favors. 

Is it not a little remarkable, that this Congress and your Con- 
vention should come to resolutions so nearly similar, on the same 
day ? and that even the Convention of Maryland should, in that 
critical moment, have proceeded so far as to abolish the oaths 
of allegiance, notwithstanding that some of their other resolves 
are a little eccentric ? 

Your resolution is consistent and decisive ; it is grounded on 
true principles, which are fairly and clearly stated ; and in my 
humble opinion, the proviso, which reserves to yourselves the in- 
stitution of your own government, is fit and right, this being a 
matter of wiiich the colonies are the best judges, and a privilege 
which each colony ought to reserve to itself. Yet, after all, I 
believe there will be much more uniformity in the governments 
which all of them will adopt, than could have been expected a 
few months ago. 

The joy and exultation which was expressed upon that great 
occasion, did honor to their good sense and public virtue. It 
was an important event, at a critical time, in which the interest 
and happiness of themselves and their posterity were much con- 

Hopkiiis's fleet has been very unfortunate ; a dreadful sick- 
ness has raged among his men, and disabled him from putting 
more than two of his vessels to sea. To what place they are 
gone, I know not ; perhaps to cruise for transports. 

1 Mr. Hughes had been appointed by General Schuyler Assistant Quarter- 
master-General of his forces. 




Philadelphia, 9 June, 1776. 

I had yesterday the honor of your letter of the 28th May, and 
I read it with all that pleasure which we feel on the revival of 
an old friendship, when we meet a friend whom for a long 
time we have not seen. 

You do me great honor, Sir, in expressing a pleasure at mj_ 
_appointment to the bench ; but be assured that no circumstance 

relating to that appointment, has given me so much concern as 
my being placed at the head of it, in preference to another, 
who in my opinion was so much better qualified for it, and en- 
titled to it. I did all in my power to have it otherwise, but I 
was told that our sovereign lords the people must have it so. 
When, or where, or how, the secret imagination seized you, as 
you say it did heretofore, that I was destined to that place, I 
cannot conjecture. Nothing, I am sure, was further from my 
thoughts or wishes. I am not a little chagrined that Sargeant 
has declined. I had great hopes from his solid judgment and 
extensive knowledge. Paine has acted in his own character, 
although I think not consistent with the public character which 
he has been made to wear. However, I confess I am not much 
mortified with this, for the bench will not be the less respecta- 
ble for having the less wit, humor, drollery, or fun upon it ; very 
difl'erent qualities are necessary for that department.^ 

Warren has an excellent head and heart ; and since we can- 
not be favored and honored with the judgment of lawyers, I 
know not where a better man could have been found ; I hope 
he will not decline ; if he should, I hope that Lowell or Dana 
will be thought of. 

I am happy in your appointment of good Mr. Winthrop,^ 
whose experience will be useful in that station, and whose con- 
duct and principles have deserved it. 

You have my hearty concurrence in telling the jury the nul- 
lity of acts of parliament, whether we can prove it by the jus 

1 Notwithstanding all which, Mr. Paine subsequently accepted a seat on the 
bench, and served with dignity and reputation for fourteen years, until 1804. 

2 " We have appointed good Mr. Winthrop, clerk." Extract from Mr. C.'s 


gladii, or not.^ I am determined to die of that opinion, let the 
jus g-ladii say what it will. 

The system and rules of the common law must be adopted, 
I suppose, until the legislature shall make alterations in either ; 
and how much soever I may heretofore have found fault with 
the powers that were, I suppose I shall be well pleased now to 
hear submission inculcated to the powers that are. It wotlld 
give me great pleasure to ride this eastern circuit with you, and 
prate before you at the bar, as I used to do. But I am destined 
to another fate, to drudgery of the most wasting, exhausting,_ 
consuming kind, that I ever went through in my whole life. 
Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, and measures in 
which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are inti- 
mately interested, are now before us. We are in the very 
midst of a revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and re- 
markable, of any in the history of nations, A few important 
subjects must be despatched before I can return to my family. 
Every colony must be induced to institute a perfect govern- 
ment. All the colonies must confederate together in some so- 
lemn band of union. The Congress must declare the colonies 
free and independent States, and ambassadors must be sent 
abroad to foreign courts, to solicit their acknowledgment of us, 
as sovereign States, and to form with them, at least with some 
of them, commercial treaties of friendship and alliance. When 
these things are once completed, I shall think that I have an- 
swered the end of my creation, and sing my nunc diinittis, re- 
turn to my farm, family, ride circuits, plead law, or judge 
causes, just which you please. 

The rumors you heard of a reinforcement in Canada, and 
those you must have heard before now, of many disasters there, 
are but too true. Canada has been neglected too much, to 
my infinite grief and regret, and against all the remonstrances 
which I could make, and many others. This has been owing 
to causes, which it would tire you to explain, if I was at liberty, 
which I am not. However, nothing on my part, or that of my 
colleagues, will be wanting to secure a reverse of fortune there. 
Dunmore is fled to an island. Our little fleet has had a shock- 

' " I can tell the grand jury the nullity of acts of parliament, but must leave 
you to prove it by the more powerful arguments of the Jus gladii divinum, a 
power not peculiar to kings or ministers." Mr. C.'s letter. 


ing sickness, which has disabled so many men, that the com- 
modore has sent on a cruise two of his ships only. 

The difficulty of defending so extended a sea-coast, is prodi- 
gious, but the spirit of the people is very willing, and they exert 
themselves nobly in most places. The British men-of-war are 
distressed for provisions, and even for water, almost every- 
where. They have no comfort in any part of America. 

My good genius whispers me very often, that I shall enjoy 
many agreeable hours with you ; but fortune often disappoints 
the hopes which my good genius inspires. But in the mean 
time, I shall ever be happy to receive a line from you. Should 
be much obliged to you for some account of occurrences in your 
eastern circuit. Remember me with every sentiment of respect 
to the bench, the bar, and all other friends. 


Philadelphia, 12 June, 1776. 

Yesterday's post brought me a newspaper of the 3d instant, 
containing a list of your House and Board ; and, upon my word, 
I read it with more pleasure than I ever read any other list 
of the tw^o Houses. I do not believe the records of the pro- 
vince can show a more respectable set of representatives or 
counsellors. Sargeant, Lowell, Pickering, Angier, are great 
acquisitions in the House ; so are Dana and Sewall at the Board, 
not to mention many other very respectable characters among 
the new members of each. 

From this collection of wise and prudent men I hope great 
things. I hope that the most vigorous exertions will be made 
to put the province in the best state of defence. Every seaport 
in it ought to be fortified in such a manner that you may set 
the enemy at defiance. To this end, large additions must be 
made to the cannon of the colon v. I wish to know whether 
they are cast at any furnace in the province ; if not, no expense, 
I think, should be spared to procure them. They are casting 
them successfully in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. 
Another article, essentially necessary, is that of muskets. I 


wish that every man in tlie province, who can work about any 
part of a gun or bayonet, was set to work. No price should be 
thought extravagant. 

^altpetre,Jt seems, you are in a way to procure in sufficient 
quantities ; but sulphur and lead I have not yet learnt to be 
made among you. I hope you will take effectual measures to 
make salt. You must do it. The other colonies are too lazy 
and shiftless to do any thing until you set them the example. 

The defence of the colony is the first object. The second is 
the formation of a Constitution. In this business I presume 
you will proceed slowly and deliberately. It is a difficult 
work to achieve; and the spirit of levelling, as well as that of 
innovation, is afloat. Before I saw the list of the new election, 
I was under fearful apprehension, I confess. But my mind is 
now at ease in this respect. There are so many able men in 
each House, that I think they will have influence enough to 
prevent any dangerous in nova tions, and yet to carry any neces- 
sary and useful improvements. 

Some of you must prepare your stomachs to come to Phila- 
delphia. I am weary, and must ask leave to return to my 
family, after a little time, and one of my colleagues at least 
must do the same, or I greatly fear do worse. You and I know 
very well the fatigues of practice at the bar, but I assure you 
this incessant round of thinking and speaking upon the greatest 
subjects that ever employed the mind of man, and the most per- 
plexing dilliculties that ever puzzled it, is beyond all comparison 
more exhausting and consuming. 

Our affairs in Canada are in a confused and disastrous situa- 
tion. But I hope they will not be worse. We have made 
large requisitions upon you ; how you can possibly comply 
with them I know not ; but I hope you will do as much as you 

We have no resource left, my friend, bat our own fortitude 
and the favor of heaven. If we have the first I have no doubt 
we shall obtain the last, and these will be sufficient. All ideas 
of reconciliation or accommodation seem to be gone with the 
years before the flood. 

I have nothing new to communicate but what is in every 
newspaper, and I began this letter only to make my compli- 
ments to you, and ask the favor of your correspondence. But 


I have wandered, I know not whither. It is time to subscribe 
myself your friend and servant. 


Philadelphia, 12 June, 177G. 

It was with great pleasure, and perhaps some little mixture 
of pride, that I read your name among the representatives of 
Bridgewater, in the Boston Gazette. I rejoiced to find that 
your townsmen had so much confidence in your abilities and 
patriotism, and that you had so much confidence in the justice 
of our cause, and the abilities of America to support it, as to 
embark your fortune in it. Your country never stood so nrach 
in need of men of clear heads and steady hearts to conduct 
her affairs. Our civil governments as well as military prepara- 
tions want much improvement, and to this end a most vigilant 
attention, as well as great patience, caution, prudence, and 
firmness, is necessary. 

You will excuse the freedom of a friend, when I tell you that 
I have never entertained any doubt that your political prin- 
ciples and public affections corresponded with those of your 
country. But you know that jealousies and suspicions have 
been entertained and propagated concerning you. These jea- 
lousies arose, I am well persuaded, from an unreserved freedom 
of conversation, and a social disposition a little addicted to dis- 
putation, which was sometimes, perhaps, incautiously indulged. 
Your present situation, which is conspicuous, and not only 
exposed to observation but to misconstruction and misrepre- 
sentation, will make it necessary for you to be upon your guard. 

Let me recommend to you an observation that one of my 
colleagues is very fond of, " The first virtue of a politician is 
patience; the second is patience; and the third is patience!" 
as Demosthenes observed that action was the first, second, and 
third quality of an orator. You will experience in public life 
such violent, sudden, and unexpected provocations and disap- 
pointments, that if you are not now possessed of all the patience 
of Job, I would advise you to acquire it as soon as possible. 


News I can tell you none. I have written to Colonel Warren, 
JMr. Sewall, and Mr. Lowell, a few broken hints, upon subjects 
which I wish you would turn your thoughts to. Be so good 
as to wTite me any remarkables in the legislature or the courts 
of justice. 


Philadelphia, 12 June, 1776. 

In the lists of the House and Board I was as much pleased 
to find your name among the latter, as I was chagrined to 
find it omitted in the former. This is one among numberless 
advantages of a middle branch of the legislature, that a place 
may be found in it for such distinguished friends of their 
country as are omitted by the people in the choice of their re- 
presentatives. This is an advantage which Pennsylvania never 
enjoyed and some ignorant pretenders to the art of building 
civil governments seem to wish should not prevail in other 
colonies. But, so far from succeeding, every colony on the 
continent in their new Constitutions, even Pennsylvania itself, 
will have a middle branch. I hope you will now go on and 
complete your government by choosing a governor and lieute- 


I think the province never had so fair a representation or so 
respectable a House or Board. You have a great number of 
ingenious, able men in each. I sincerely congratulate the pro- 
vince upon it, and think it forebodes much good. I am anxious 
to be informed of the state of the province, and of the progress 
you make step by step. Should be much obliged to you for a 
letter now and then. 

We are drudging on as usual; sometimes it is seven o'clock 
before we rise. We have greater things in contemplation than 
ever; the greatest of all which we ever shall have. Be silent 
and patient, and time will bring forth, after the usual groans, 
throes, and pains upon such occasions, a fine child, a fine, vigor- 
ous, healthy boy, I presume. God bless him and make him a 
great, wise, virtuous, pious, rich, and powerful man! 

Prepare yourself for vexation enough, for my tour of duty is 


almost out; and when it is, you or Lowell, or both, must come 
here and toil a little, while we take a little breath. 


Philadelphia, 14 June, 1776. 

Mr. Bedford put into my hand this moment a card from you, 
containing a reprehension for the past, and a requisition for the 
time to come.i For the past, I kiss the rod; but from comply- 
ing with the requisition, at least one part of it, I must be ex-, 
cused. I have no objection to writing you facts, but I would 
not meddle with characters for the world. A burnt child dreads 
the fire. I have smarted too severely for a few crude expressions 
written in a pet to a bosom friend, to venture on such bold- 
nesses again. Besides, if I were to tell you all that I think of 
all characters, I should appear so ill natured and censorious that 
I should detest myself. By my soul, I think very heinously, I 
cannot think of a better word, of some people. They think as 
badly of me, I suppose; and neither of us care a farthing for 
that. So the account is balanced, and perhaps, after all, both 
sides may be deceived, both may be very honest men. 

But of all the animals on earth that ever fell in my way, your 
trimmers, your double-tongued and double-minded men, your 
disguised folk, I detest most. The devil, I think, has a better 
title to these, by half, than he has to those who err openly, and 
are barefaced villains. 

Mr. Adams ever was and ever will be glad to see Mr. Chase ; 
but Mr. Chase never was nor will be more welcome than if he 
should come next Monday or Tuesday fortnight, with the voice 
of Maryland in favor of independence and a foreign alliance. 

1 As this note is brief, it is given entire : 

"_Mr. Chase will excuse the late neglect and inattention of Mr. John Adams 
to him, upon the express condition that in future he constantly communicate to 
Mr. Chase every matter relating to persons or things. Mr. Chase Hatters him- 
self with seeing Mr. Adams on Monday or Tuesday fortnight with the voice of 
Maryland in favor of independence and a foreign alliance, which are, in Mr. 
Chase's opinion, the only and best measures to preserve the liberties of America. 
Direct to AnnapoUs." 


I have never had the honor of knowing many people from Mary- 
land, but by what I have learnt of them and seen of then- dele- 
gates, they are an open, sincere, and united people. A little 
obstinate, to be sure, but that is very pardonable, when accom- 
panied with frankness. From all which I conclude that when 
they shall be convinced of the necessity of those measures, they 
will all be convinced at once, and afterwards be as active and 
forward as any, perhaps more so than most. 

I have one bone to pick with your colony ; I suspect they 
levelled one of their instructions at my head. This is a distinc- 
tion of which you may suppose I am not very ambitious. One 
of your colleagues moved a resolution that no member of Con- 
gress should hold any oflice under any of the new governments, 
and produced an instruction to make him feel strong.^ I 
seconded the motion, with a trifling amendment, that the reso- 
lution should be, that no member of Congress should hold any 
office, civil or military, in the army or in the militia, under any 
government, old or new. This struck through the assembly 
like an electric shock, for every member was a governor, or 
general, or judge, or some mighty thing or other in the militia, or 
under the old government or some new one. This was so im- 
portant a matter that it required consideration, and I have never 
heard another word about it. 

The truth, as far as it respects myself, is this. The govern- 
ment of the Massachusetts, without my solicitation and much 
against my inclination, were pleased some time last summer to 
nominate me to an office. It was at a time when offices under 
new governments were not in much demand, being considered 
rather precarious. I did not refuse this office, although, by 
accepting it, I must resign another office, which I held under 
the old government, three times as profitable, because I was 
well informed, that, if I had refused it, no other man would have 
accepted it, and this would have greatly weakened, perhaps 
ruined the new constitution. This is the truth of fact. So 
that one of the most disinterested and intrepid actions of my 
whole life has been represented to the people of Maryland to 
my disadvantage. I told the gentlemen that I should be much 
obliged, if they would find me a man who would accept of my 

1 See vol. iil. page 26, for the instruction, and further comments upon it. The 
paper is printed in full in Force's American Archioes, 4th series, vol. iv. c. 739. 

VOL. IX. 34 


office, or by passing the resolution furnish me with a justifica- 
tion for refusing it. In either case, I would subscribe my renun- 
ciation of that office before I left that room. Nay, I would go 
further, I would vote with them that every member of this 
Congi-ess should take an oath that he never would accept of 
any office during life, or procure any office for his father, his 
son, his brother, or his cousin. So much for egotism I 

McKean has returned from the lower counties with full 
powers. Their instructions are in the same words with the 
new ones to the delegates of Pennsylvania. New Jersey has 
dethroned Franklin,^ and in a letter, which is just come to my 
hand from indisputable authority, I am told that the delegates 
from that colony "will vote plump I"^ Maryland now stands 
alone. I presume she will soon join company; if not, she must 
be left alone. 


Philadelplila, 16 June, 1776, 

Your favors of June 2d and 5th, are now before me. 

The address to the Convention of Virginia, makes a small 
fortune in the world. Colonel Henry, in a letter to me, expresses 
infinite contempt of it,^ and assures me that the constitution of 
Virginia will be more like the " Thoughts on Government." I 
believe, however, they will make the election of their council 
iseptennial; that of representatives and governor, annual. But 
;I am amazed to find an inclination so prevalent throughout all 
the southern colonies, to adopt plans so nearly resembling that 
jin the " Thoughts on Government." I assure you, until the ex- 
periment was made, I had no conception of it. But the pride 
of the haughty must, I see, come down a little in the south. 

You suppose " it would not do to have the two regiments you 
are now raising, converted into continental regiments." But 
why? "Would the officers or men have any objection? If they 
would not. Congress would have none ; this was what I ex- 

1 W. T. Franklin. 

2 See the letter of J. D. Sergeant in volume iii. p. 55, note. As it is dated 
at Burlington the 15th, the probability is that this letter was not finished until 
the 16th. 

3 Vol. iv. p. 201. 


pected and intended, when the measure was in agitation. In- 
deed, I thought, that as our battalions, with their arras, were 
can-ied to New York and Canada, in the service of the united 
colonics, the town of Boston and the province ought to be 
guarded against danger by the united colonies. 

You have been since called upon for six thousand militia for 
Canada and New York. How you will get the men, I know 
not. The smallpox, I suppose, will be a great discouragement. 
But we must maintain our ground in Canada. The regulars, 
if they get full possession of that province, and the navigation 
of St. Lawrence river above Deschambault, at least above the 
mouth of the Sorel, will have nothing to interrupt their commu- 
nication with Niagara, Detroit, Michilimackinac; they will have 
the navigation of the five great lakes quite as far as the Missis- 
sippi River ; they will have a free communication with all the 
numerous tribes of Indians extended along the frontiers of all 
the colonies, and, by their trinkets and bribes, will induce them 
to take up the hatchet, and spread blood and fire among the in- 
habitants ; by which means, all the frontier inhabitants will be 
driven in upon the middle settlements, at a time when the in- 
habitants of the seaports and coasts will be driven back by the 
British navy. Is this picture too high colored? Perhaps it is ; 
but surely we must maintain our power in Canada. 

You may depend upon my rendering Mr. Winthrop all the 
service in my power. 

I believe it will not be long before all property belonging to 
British subjects, whether in Europe, the West India islands, or 
elsewhere, will be made liable to capture. A few weeks may 
possibly produce great things. 


Philadelphia, 21 June, 1776. 

Your letter, Sir, gave me great pleasure, and deserves my 
most hearty thanks. 

I am fully with you in sentiment, that although the author- 
ity of the Congress, founded as it has been in reason, honor, 

1 Vol. ii. p. 83, note. 


and the love of liberty, has been sufficient to govern the colonies 
in a tolerable manner, for their defence and protection, yet that 
it is not prudent to continue very long in the same way ; and 
that a permanent constitution should be formed, and foreign 
aid obtained. In these points, and thus far, the colonies and 
their representatives, the Congress, are extremely well united. 
But concerning a declaration of independency, there is some 
diversity of sentiment. Two arguments only are urged with 
any plausibility against such a measure. One is, that it will 
unite all the inhabitants of Great Britain against us ; the other, 
that it will put us too much in the power of foreign States. 

The first has little weight in it, because the people of Great 
Britain are already as much united against us as they ever are 
in any thing, and the probability is, that such a declaration 
would excite still greater divisions and distractions among them. 

The second has less weight still ; for foreign powers already 
know that we are as obnoxious to the British court as we can 
be. They know that parliament have in effect declared us in- 
dependent, and that we have acted these thirteen months to all 
intent and purposes as if we were so. 

The reports of fifty-five thousand men coming against us, are 
chiefly ministerial gasconade. However, we have reason to fear 
that they will send several very powerful armaments against us, 
and therefore our most strenuous exertions will be necessary as 
well as our most fervent prayers. America is yet in her in- 
fancy, or at least but lately arrived to manhood, and is inex- 
perienced in the perplexing mysteries of policy, as well as the 
dangerous operations of war. 

I assure you. Sir, that your employment in investigating the 
moral causes of our miseries, and in pointing out the remedies, 
is devoutly to be wished. There is no station more respectable, 
nor any so pleasant and agreeable. Those who tread the pub- 
lic stage in characters the most extensively conspicuous, meet 
with so many embarrassments, perplexities, and disappoint- 
ments, that they have often reason to wish for the peaceful 
retreats of the clergy. Who would not wish to exchange the 
angry contentions of the former for the peaceful contemplations 
of the closet? 

"Where Contemplation prunes her ruffled wings, 
And the free soul looks down to pit}' kings." 


Who would not exchange the discordant scenes of envy, 
pride, vanity, malice, revenge, for the sweet consolations of 
philosophy, the serene composure of the passions, the divine 
enjoyments of Christian charity and benevolence? 

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, 
but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the 
principles upon wiiich freedom can securely stand. The only 
foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue ; and if this 
cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than 
they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms 
of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty. 
They will only exchange tyrants and tyrannies. You cannot, 
therefore, be more pleasantly or usefully employed than in the 
way of your j^rofession, pulling down the strong-holds of Satan. 
This is not cant, but the real sentiment of my heart. Remem- 
ber me with much respect to your worthy family and to all 


Pliiladelpliia, 22 June, 1776. 

Your letters of April 24th ^ and May 26th are before me ; both 
dated at Boston; a circumstance which alone would have given 
pleasure to a man who has such an attachment to that town, 
and who has suffered so much anxiety for his friends in their 
exile from it. 

We have not many of the fearful, and still less of the unbe- 
lieving among us, how slowly soever you may think we pro- 
ceed. Is it not a want of faith, or a predominance of fear, which 
makes some of you so impatient for declarations in words, of 
what is every day manifested in deeds of the most determined 
nature and unequivocal signification ? 

That we are divorced a vinculo, as well as from bed and 
board, is to me very clear. The only question is concerning 
the proper time for making an explicit declaration in words. 
Some people must have time to look around them; before, 

' Printed in vol. ii. p. 291, note. 

34* Z 


behind, on the right hand, and on the left; then to think, and, 
after all this, to resolve. Others see at one intuitive glance 
into the past and the future, and judge with precision at once. 
But remember you cannot make thirteen clocks strike precisely 
alike at the same second. 

I am for the most liberal toleration of all denominations of 
religionists, but I hope that Congress will never meddle with 
religion further than to say their own prayers, and to fast and 
give thanks once a year. Let every colony have its own reli- 
gion without molestation. 

The Congress ordered Church ^ to the Massachusetts Coun- 
cil to be let out upon bail. It was represented to them that his 
health was in a dangerous way, and it was thought he would 
not now have it in his power to do any mischief. Nobody 
knows what to do with him. There is no law to try him upon, 
and no court to try him. I am afraid he deserves more punish- 
ment than he will ever meet. 


Philadelphia, 22 June, 1776. 

Your favor of the 2d instant has lain by me, I suppose, these 
eighteen days ; but I fear I shall often have occasion to make 
apologies for such omissions, which will never happen from 
want of respect, but I fear very often for want of time. 

Your reasoning to prove the equity and the policy of making 
provision for the unfortunate officer or soldier, is extremely 
just, and cannot be answered ; and I hope that when we get a 
little over the confusions arising from the revolutions which are 
now taking place in the colonies, and get an American Consti- 
tution formed, something will be done. I should be much 
obliged to you for your thoughts upon the subject. What 
pensions should be allowed, or what other provision made. 
Whether it would be expedient to establish a hospital, &c. It 
is a matter of importance, and the plan should be well digested. 

I think with you, that every colony should furnish its propor- 

1 Dr. Church. 


tion of men, and I hope it will come to this. But at present 
some colonies have such bodies of Quakers, and Mennonists, 
and Moravians, who are principled against war, and others have 
such bodies of tories, or cowards, or unprincipled people, who 
will not wage war, that it is, as yet, impossible. 

The dispute is, as you justly observe, in all human probabi- 
lity but in its infancy. We ought, therefore, to study to bring 
every thing in the military department into the best order. 
Fighting is not the greatest branch of the science of war. Men 
must be furnished with good and wholesome provisions in 
sufficient plenty. They must be well paid. They must be 
well clothed, and well covered with barracks and tents. They 
must be kept warm, with suitable fuel. In these respects we 
have not been able to do so well as we wished. But why the 
regiments have not been furnished with proper agents, I do not 
know. Congress is ever ready to hearken to the advice of the 
general, and if he had recommended such officers, they would 
have been appointed. Colonels should neither be agents nor 
sutlers. Congress have lately voted that there shall be regi- 
mental paymasters, who shall keep the accounts of the regi- 
ments. If any other agent is necessary, let me know it. Good 
officers are no doubt the soul of an army, but our difficulty is 
to get men. Officers present themselves in supernumerary 

As to pay, there is no end to the desire and demand of it. 
Is there not too much extravagance and too little economy 
among the officers ? 

I am much at a loss whether it would not be the best policy 
to leave every colony to raise its own troops, to clothe them, 
to pay them, to furnish them with tents, and indeed with every 
thing but provisions, fuel, and forage. The project of abolish- 
ing provincial distinctions was introduced with a good inten- 
tion, I believe, at first, but I think it will do no good upon the 
whole. However, if Congress is to manage the whole, I am in 
hopes they will get into a better train. They have establish- 
ed a war-office, and a board of war and ordnance, by means 
of which I hope they will get their affairs into better order.^ 

' Mr. Adams had been appointed by Congress, on the 13th of June, Chairman 
of this Board. From this date his correspondence with the military officers 


They will be better informed of the state of the army and of 
all its wants. 

That the promotion of extraordinary merit may give disgust 
to those officers over whom the advancement is made, is true; 
but I think it ought not. That this pov^er may be abused or 
misapplied, is also true. That interest, favor, private friend- 
ship, prejudice, may operate more or less in the purest assembly 
is true. But where will you lodge this power ? To place it in 
the General would be more dangerous to the public liberty, and 
not less liable to abuse from sinister and unworthy motives. 
Will it do, is it consistent with common prudence, to lay it 
down as an invariable rule, that all officers, in all cases, shall 
rise in succession? 

I am obliged to you for your caution, not to be too confident. 
The fate of war is uncertain ; so are all sublunary things. But 
we must form our conjectures of effects from the knowledge we 
have of causes, and in circumstances like ours must not attempt 
to penetrate too far into futurity. There are as many evils, 
and more, which arise in human life from an excess of diffi- 
dence, as from an excess of confidence. Proud as mankind is, 
there is more superiority in this world yielded than assumed. 
I learned long ago from one of the greatest statesmen this 
world ever produced, Sully, neither to adventure upon rash 
attempts from too much confidence, nor to despair of success 
in a great design from the appearance of difficulties. Without 
attempting to judge of the future, which depends upon too 
many accidents, much less to subject it to our precipitation in 
bold and difficult enterprises, we should endeavor to subdue one 
obstacle at a time, nor suffer ourselves to be depressed by their 
greatness and their number. We oiig-ht never to despair of what 
has been once accomplished. How many things has the idea of 
impossible been annexed to, that have become easy to those 
who knew how to take advantage of time, opportunity, lucky 
moments, the faults of others, different dispositions, and an 
infinite number of other circumstances! 

I will inclose to you a copy of the resolution establishing a 
board of war and ordnance. And, as you may well imagine 
we are all inexperienced in this business, I should be extremely 
obliged to you for any hints for the improvement of the plan, 
which may occur to you, and for any assistance or advice you 


may give me as a private correspondent, in the execution of it. 
It is a great mortification to me, I confess, and I fear it will too 
often be a misfortune to our country, that I am called to the 
discharge of trusts to which I feel myself so unequal, and in 
the execution of which I can derive no assistance from my 
education or former course of life. But my country must com- 
mand me, and wherever she shall order me, there I will go 
without dismay. 


Philadelphia, 22 June, 177G. 

Your obliging favor of the 3d of June has been too long un- 
answered. I acknowledge the difficulty in ascertaining the 
comparative merit of officers, and the danger of advancing 
friends, where there is no uncommon merit. This danger cannot 
be avoided by any other means than making it an invariable 
rule to promote officers in succession. For if you make a King 
the judge of uncommon merit, he will advance favorites without 
merit, under color or pretence of merit. If you make a Minister 
of State the judge, he will naturally promote his relations, con- 
nections, and friends. If you place the power of judging of 
extraordinary merit in an Assembly, you do not mend the 
matter much. For, by all the experience J have had, I find 
that assemblies have favorites, as well as kings and ministers. 
The favorites of assemblies or the leading members, are not 
always the most w^orthy ; I do not know whether they ever are. 
These leading members have sons, brothers, and cousins, ac- 
quaintances, friends, and connections of one sort or another, 
near or remote ; and I have ever found these leading members 
of assemblies as much under the influence of nature, and her 
passions and prejudices, as kings and ministers. The principal 
advantage and difference lies in this, that in an assembly there 
are more guards and checks upon the infirmities of leading 
members, than there are upon kings and ministers. 

What, then, shall we say? Shall we leave it to the General 
and the army? Is there not as much favoritism, as much of 
nature, passion, prejudice, and partiality in the army, as in an 
assembly? As much in a General, as a King or Minister? 


Upon the whole, I Relieve it wisest to depart from the line of 
succession as seldom as possible. But I cannot but think that 
the power of departing from it at all, though liable to abuses 
everywhere, yet safest in the hands of an Assembly. 

But, in our American army, as that is circumstanced, it is as 
difficult to settle a rule of succession as a criterion of merit. 
We have troops in every province, from Georgia to New Hamp- 
shire. A Colonel is killed in New Hampshire. The next Colonel 
in the American Army to him is in Georgia. Must we send 
the Colonel from Georgia to command the regiment in New 
Hampshire ? Upon his journey he is seized with a fever and 
dies. The next Colonel is in Canada. We must then send to 
Canada for a Colonel to go to Portsmouth ; and, as the next 
Colonel to him is in South Carolina, we must send a Colonel 
from South Carolina to Canada to command that regiment. 
These marches and counter-marches must run through all the 
corps of officers, and will occasion such inextricable perplexities, 
delays, and uncertainties, that we need not hesitate to pronounce 
it impracticable and ruinous. Shall we say, then, that succes- 
sion shall take place among the officers of every distinct army, 
or in every distinct department ? 

My own private opinion is, that we shall never be quite right 
until every colony is permitted to raise its own troops, and the 
rule of succession is established among the officers of the colony. 
This, where there are troops of several colonies, serving in the 
same camp, may be liable to some inconveniences. But these 
will be fewer than upon any other plan you can adopt. 

It is right, I believe, to make the rule of promotion among 
captains and subalterns regimental only ; and that among field- 
officers more general. But the question is, how general it shall 
be. Shall it extend to the whole American army ? or only to 
the whole district or department? or only to the army serving 
at a particular place ? 

That it is necessary to enlist an army to serve during the 
war, or at least for a longer period than one year, and to offer 
some handsome encouragement for that end, I have been con- 
vinced a long time.i I would make this temptation to consist 
partly in money and partly in land, and considerable in both. 

' Compare with tliis sentiment the statement made by Mr. Hamilton. Ha- 
millon's Works, vol. vii. p. G89. 


It has been too long delayed, but I think it will now be soon 

What is the reason that New York must continue to embar- 
rass the continent ? Must it be so forever ? What is the cause 
of it? Have they no politicians capable of instructing and 
forming the sentiments of their people ? Or are their people 
incapable of seeing and feeling like other men ? One would 
think that their proximity to New England would assimilate 
their opinions and principles. One would think, too, that the 
army would have some influence upon them. But it seems to 
have none. New York is likely to have the honor of being the 
very last of all in imbibing the genuine principles and the true 
system of American policy. Perhaps she will never entertain 
them at all. 


Philadelphia, 23 June, 1776. 

Your agreeable favor of May 4th has lain by me unanswered 
till now. The relation of your negotiations at New York in 
order to convince the people of the utility and necessity of in- 
stituting a new government, is very entertaining; and if you 
had remained there a few weeks longer, I conjecture you would 
have effected a change in the politics of that region.^ Is it 
deceit or simple dulness in the people of that colony, which 
occasions their eccentric and retrograde politics ? 

Your late letter from Sorel gave us here many agreeable 
feelings. We had read nothing but the doleful, the dismal, 
and the horrible from Canada for a long time. 

The sun-ender of the Cedars appears to have been a most 
infamous piece of cowardice. The officer,^ if he has nothing to 
say for himself more than I can think of, deserves the most 
infamous death. It is the first stain upon American arms. 
May immortal disgrace attend his name and character I I wish, 
however, that he alone had been worthy of blame. We have 

1 The greater part of the letter referred to is printed anonymously in Gor- 
don's History, vol. ii. p. 269. It is a curious specimen of the poUtical manoeuvring 
of that day. 

- Major Butterfield. 


thrown away Canada in a most scandalous manner. Pray did 
not opening the trade to the upper country, and letting loose the 
tories, bring upon us so many disasters ? For God's sake ex- 
plain to me the causes of our miscarriages in that province. 
Let us know the truth, which has too long been hidden from 
us. All the military affairs in that province have been in great 
confusion, and we have never had any proper returns or regular 
information from thence. There is now a corps of officers who 
will certainly act with more system and more precision, and 
more spirit. Pray make us acquainted with every thing that is 
\vanted, whether men, money, arms, ammunition, clothing, tents, 
barracks, forage, medicines, or whatever else. Keep us con- 
stantly informed ; give us line upon line. 

I fear there is a chain of toryism extending from Canada 
through New York and New Jersey into Pennsylvania, which 
conducts misrepresentation and false information, and makes 
impression here upon credulous, unsuspecting, ignorant whigs. 
I wish it may not have for its object treasons and conspiracies 
of a deeper die. 

There is a young gentleman bred at college and the bar, an 
excellent soldier, a good scholar, and a virtuous man, in your 
brigade, who deserves a station far above that in which he 
stands, that of adjutant to Colonel Greaton's regiment. Any 
notice you may take of him will be gratefully acknowledged by 
me as well as him.^ Prav let me know the state of the small- 
pox, an enemy which we have more cause to fear than any 
other. Is it among our troops ? Is it among the Canadians ? 
I mean the inhabitants of the country. Can no effectual means 
be used to annihilate the infection ? Cannot it be kept out of 
the army ? The New England militia will be of no use, if they 
come in ever so great numbers, if that distemper is to seize them 
as soon as they arrive. 

1 Nathan Rice, -who had been a student in the office of Mr. Adams at the 
breaking out of the revolution, and left it to join the army, in which he served 
with credit and distinction. 



Plailadelpliia, 23 June, 1776. 

Your favor of June 1st is before me. It is now universally 
acknowledged that we^are and must be independent. But still, 
objections are made to a declaration of it. It is said that such 
a declaration will arouse and unite Great Britain. But are they 
not already aroused and united, as much as they will be ? Will 
not such a declaration arouse and unite the friends of liberty, 
the few who are left, in opposition to the present system? It 
is also said that such a declaration will put us in the power 
of foreign States ; that France will take advantage of us when 
they see we cannot recede, and demand severe terms of us ; that 
she, and Spain too, will rejoice to see Britain and America 
wasting each other. But this reasoning has no weight with 
me, because I am not for soliciting any political connection, or 
military assistance, or indeed naval, from France. I wish for 
nothing but commerce, a mere marine treaty with them.i And 
this they will never grant until we make the declaration, and 
this, I think, they cannot refuse, after we have made it. 

The advantages which will result from such a declaration, are, 
in my opinion, very numerous and very great. After that event 
the colonies will hesitate no longer to complete their govern- 
ments. They will establish tests, and ascertain the criminality 
of toryism. The presses will produce no more seditious or 
traitorous speculations. Slanders upon public men and mea- 
sures will be lessened. The legislatures of the colonies will 
exert themselves to manufacture saltpetre, sulphur, powder, 
arms, cannon, mortars, clothing, and every thing necessary for 
the support of life. Our civil governments will feel a vigor 
hitherto unknown. Our military operations by sea and land 
will be conducted w4th greater spirit. Privateers will swarm in 
vast numbers. Foreigners will then exert themselves to supply 
us with what we want. A foreimi court will not disdain to 


' See vol. ii. pp. 488, 489, 503, 504. In a brief but very vahiable essay, 
entitled, The Diplomacy of the Revolution, published at New York in 1852, Mr. 
AV. H. Trescott points out with great clearness the origin of the neutral policy 
of the United States. The language of this letter is only further corroborative 
of the correctness of the statement in the autobiography, very properly noticed 
by him as written at a much later jieriod. See that volume, p. 21, note. 

VOL. IX. ^^ 


treat with us upon equal terms. Nay farther, in my opinion, 
such a declaration, instead of uniting the people of Great Britain 
against us, will raise such a storm against the measures of ad- 
ministration as will obstruct the war, and throw the kingdom 
into confusion. 

A committee is appointed to prepare a confederation of the 
colonies, ascertaining the terms and ends of the compact, and 
the limits of the Continental Constitution ; and another com- 
mittee is appointed to draw up a declaration that these colonies 
are free and independent States. And other committees are 
appointed for other purposes, as important. These committees 
will report in a week or two, and then the last finishing strokes 
will be given to the politics of this revolution. Nothing after 
that will remain but war. I think I may then petition my 
constituents for leave to return to my family, and leave the war 
to be conducted by some others who understand it better. I 
am w^eary, thoroughly weary, and ought to have a little rest. 

I am grieved to hear, as I do from various quarters, of that 
rage for innovation, which appears in so many wild shapes in 
our province. Are not these ridiculous projects prompted, ex- 
cited, and encouraged by disaffected persons, in order to divide, 
dissipate, and distract the attention of the people at a time when 
every thought should be employed, and every sinew exerted for 
the defence of the country ? Many of the projects that I heard 
of are not repairing the building that is on fire. They are pull- 
ing the building down, instead of laboring to extinguish the 
flames. The projects of county assemblies, town registers, and 
town probates of wills, are founded in narrow, contracted no- 
tions, sordid stinginess, and profound ignorance, and tend 
directly to barbarism. I care not whom I offend by this lan- 
guage. I blush to see such stuff in our public papers, which 
used to breathe a spirit much more liberal. 

I rejoice to see in the lists of both Houses so many names 
respectable for parts and learning. I hope their fortitude and 
zeal will be in proportion, and then I am sure their country will 
have great cause to bless them. 



Philadelpliia, 24 June, 1776. 

Your favor of May 4th has lain by me till this time unan- 
swered, and I have heard nothing from you since. I have 
entertained hopes of seeing you here before now, as I heard 
you intended such an excursion. I was much obliged to you 
for your particular account of Major Austin and Mr. Rice ; the 
first I find has the command at Castle William. The last is 
gone to Canada, where, if he lives through the dangers of famine, 
pestilence, and the sword, I hope General Gates will promote 
him. I have written to the General concerning him, recom- 
mending him to the General's notice and favor in as strong and 
warm terms as I ever used in recommending any one. Rice 
has got possession of my heart by his prudent and faithful 
attention to the service. 

What is the reason that New York is still asleep or dead in 
politics and war ? Must it be always so ? Cannot the whole 
congregation of patriots and heroes belonging to the army, now 
in that province, inspire it with one generous sentiment ? Have 
they no sense, no feeling, no sentiment, no passions ? While 
every other colony is rapidly advancing, their motions seem to 
be rather retrograde. The timid and trimming politics of some 
men of large property here have almost done their business for 
them. They have lost their influence, and grown obnoxious. 
The quakers and proprietarians together have little weight. 
New Jersey shows a noble ardor. Is there any thing in the 
air or soil of New York unfriendly to the spirit of liberty? 
Are the people destitute of reason or of virtue ? Or what is 
the cause ? 

I agree with you in your hopes that the Massachusetts will 
proceed to complete her government. Y^ou wish me to be 
there, but I cannot. Mr. Bowdoin or Dr. Winthrop, I hope, 
will be chosen governor. When a few mighty matters are 
accomplished here, I retreat, like Cincinnatus, to my plough, 
and, like Sir William Temple, to my garden, and farewell poli- 
tics. I am wearied to death ; some of you younger folk must 
take your trick, and let me go to sleep. My children will 
scarcely thank me for neglecting their education and interest 


so long. They will be worse off than ordinary beggars, because 
I shall teach them as a first principle not to beg. Pride and 
want, though they may be accompanied with liberty, or at least 
may live under a free Constitution, are not a very pleasant 
mixture nor a very desirable legacy, yet this is all that I shall 
leave them. Pray write me as often as you can. 

It is reported here that Colonel Reed is intended for the Go- 
vernor of New Jersey. I wish with all my heart he may. That 
province is a spirited, a brave, and patriotic people. They want 
nothing but a man of sense and principle at their head. Such 
a one is Reed. His only fault is that he has not quite fire 
enough. But this may be an advantage to him as governor. 
His coolness, and candor, and goodness of heart, with his abili- 
ties, will make that people very happy. 


Philadelphia, 24 June, 1776. 

I received your obliging favor of the 21st this morning, and I 
thank you for it. Do not be angry with me.^ I hope I shall 
atone for past sins of omission soon. 

The express, which you mention, brought me such contradict- 
ory accounts that I did not think it worth while to write to 
you upon it. In general, Sullivan writes that he was intrench- 
ing at the Sorel ; that the Canadians expressed a great deal of 
joy at his appearance; that they assisted him with teams and 
with wheat ; that he had ordered General Thompson with two 
thousand men to attack the enemy, consisting of about two 
hundred, according to his intelligence, at the Three Rivers, where 
they were fortifying, and from the character of Thompson and 
the goodness of his troops, he had much confidence of his suc- 

1 " I am almost resolved not to inform you, that a general dissatisfaction pre- 
vails here with our Convention. Read the papers, and be assured Frederick 
speaks the sense of many counties. I have not been idle. I have appealed in 
writing to the people. County after county is instructing. 

" Remember me to Mrs. Adams, and all independent souls. Shall 1 send you 
my circular letter '? Adieu. 

" Your friend, 

"S. Chase." 


cess ; that lie hoped to drive away the enemy's ships, which had 
passed the rapids of Richelieu. This narration of Sullivan's 
was animating. But a letter from Arnold of the same date, or 
the next day rather, was wholly in the dismals. 

Gates is gone to Canada, and we have done every thing that 
you recommended, and more, to support him. But for my own 
part, I confess my mind is impressed with other objects, the 
neglect of which appears to me to have been the source of all 
our misfortunes in Canada and everywhere else. Make the 
tree good, and the fruit will be good. A declaration of inde- 
pendence, confederation, and foreign alliances, in season, would 
have put a stop to that embarrassing opposition in Congress, 
which has occasioned us to do the work of the Lord deceitfully 
in Canada and elsewhere. 

A resolution of your Convention was read in Congress this 
morning,^ and the question was put whether your delegates 
should have leave to go home, and whether those gi-eat ques- 
tions should be postponed beyond the 1st of July. The deter- 
mination was in the negative. We should have been happy to 
have obliged your Convention and your delegates. But it is 
now become public in the colonies that those questions are to 
be brought on the 1st of July. The lower counties have in- 
structed their members, as the Assembly of Pennsylvania have. 
Jersey has chosen five new members, all independent souls, and 
instructed them to vote on the 1st of July for independence. 

There is a conference of committees from every county in 
Pennsylvania now sitting in this city, who yesterday voted that 
the delegates for this colony ought on the 1st of July to vote 
for independence. This vote was not only unanimous, but I 
am told by one of them, that all the members declared seriatim 
that this was their opinion, and the opinion of the several coun- 
ties and towns they represented, and many of them produced 
instructions from their constituents to vote for that measure. 
You see, therefore, that there is such a universal expectation 
that the great question will be decided the 1st of July, and it 
has been already so often postponed, that to postpone it again 
would hazard convulsions and dangerous conspiracies. It must 
then come on and be decided. I hope that before Monday 

' This resolution is found in the American Archices, 4th series, vol. vi. c. 1845. 
But no trace of it is to be seen in the Journal of Congress for this day. 



morning next we shall receive from Maryland instructions to 
do right. 

Pray send me yom* circular letter, and believe me, &c. 


Philadelphia, 1 July, 1776. 

Two days ago I received your favor of May 1st. I was 
greatly disappointed, Sir, in the information you gave me, that 
you should be prevented from revisiting Philadelphia. I had 
flattered myself with hopes of your joining us soon, and not 
only affording us the additional strength of your abilities and 
fortitude, but enjoying the satisfaction of seeing a temper and 
conduct here somewhat more agreeable to your wishes than 
those which prevailed when you were here before. But I have 
since been informed that your countrymen have done them- 
selves the justice to place you at the head of their affairs, a 
station in which you may perhaps render more essential service 
to them and to America than you could here. 

There seems to have been a great change in the sentiments 
of the colonies since you left us, and I hope that a few months 
will bring us all to the same way of thinking. 

This morning is assigned for the greatest debate of all. A 
declaration, that these colonies are free and independent States, 
has been reported by a committee appointed some w^eeks ago 
for that purpose, and this day or to-morrow is to determine its 
fate. May Heaven prosper the new-born republic, and make it 
more glorious than any former republics have been ! 

The smallpox has ruined the American army in Canada, and 
of consequence the American cause. A series of disasters has 
happened there, partly owing, I fear, to the indecision of Phila- 
delphia, and partly to the mistakes or misconduct of our officers 
in that department. But the smallpox, which infected every 
man we sent there, completed our ruin, and has compelled us 
to evacuate that important province. We must, however, regain 
it sometime or other. 

My countrymen have been more successful at sea in driving 


all the men-of-war completely out of Boston harbor, and in 
making prizes of a great number of transports and other vessels. 

We are in daily expectation of an armament before New 
York, where, if it comes, the conflict must be bloody. The 
object is great which we have in view, and we must expect a 
great expense of blood to attain it. But we should always 
remember that a free constitution of civil government cannot 
be purchased at too dear a rate, as there is nothing on this side 
of the new Jerusalem of equal importance to mankind. 

It is a cruel reflection, that a little more wisdom, a little more 
activity, or a little more integrity would have preserved us 
Canada, and enabled us to support this trying conflict at less 
expense of men and money. But irretrievable miscarriages 
ought to be lamented no further than to enable and stimulate 
us to do better in future. 

Your colleagues, Hall and Gwinnet, are here in good health 
and spirits, and as firm as you yourself could wish them. Pre- 
sent my compliments to Mr. Houston. Tell him the colonies 
will have republics for their government, let us lawyers and 
your divine ^ say what we will. 


Philadelphia, 1 July, 1776. 
Your favor by the post this morning, gave me much pleasure,^ 
but the generous and unanimous vote of your Convention gave 
me much more. It was brought into Congress this morning, 
just as we were entering on the great debate. That debate 
took up the most of the day, but it was an idle mispence of 
time, for nothing was said but what had been repeated and hack- 
neyed in that room before, a hundred times, for six months past. 
In the committee of tiie whole, the question was carried in 
the affirmative, and reported to the house. A colony desired 
it to be postponed until to-morrow. Then it will pass by a 

1 Dr. Zubly. 

2 An exact imitatloa of this letter is inserted in vol. iv. of this work, p. 56. 


great majority; perhaps with almost unanimity. Yet I cannot 
promise this. Because one or two gentlemen may possibly be 
found, who will vote point-blank against the known and de- 
clared sense of their constituents. Maryland, however, I have 
the pleasure to inform you, behaved well. Paca, generously 
and nobly. 

Alas, Canada I we have found misfortune and disgrace in 
that quarter. Evacuated at last. Transports arrived at Sandy 
Hook, from whence we may expect an attack in a short time 
upon New York or New Jersey, and our army not so strong as 
we could wish. The militia of New Jersey and New England 
not so ready as they ought to be. 

The Romans made it a fixed rule never to send or receive am- 
bassadors to treat of peace with their enemies, while their affairs 
were in an adverse and disastrous situation. There was a gene- 
rosity and magnanimity in this, becoming freemen. It flowed 
from that temper and those principles, which alone can preserve 
the freedom of a people. It is a pleasure to find our Americans 
of the same temper. It is a good symptom, foreboding a good 

If you imagine that I expect this declaration will ward off" 
calamities from this country, you are much mistaken. A bloody 
conflict we are destined to endure. This has been my opinion 
from the beginning. You will certainly remember my declared 
opinion was, at the first Congress, when we 'found that we 
could not agree upon an immediate non-exportation, that the 
contest would not be settled without bloodshed ; and that if 
hostilities should once commence, they would terminate in an 
incurable animosity between the two countries. Every politi- 
cal event since the nineteenth of April, 1775, has confirmed me 
in this opinion. If you imagine that I flatter myself with hap- 
piness and halcyon days after a separation from Great Britain, 
you are mistaken again. I do not expect that our new govern- 
ment will be so quiet as I could wish, nor that happy harmony, 
confidence, and affection between the colonies, that every good 
American ought to study, labor, and pray for, for a long time. 

But, freedom is a counterbalance for poverty, discord, and 
war, and more. It is your hard lot and mine to be called into 
life at such a time. Yet, even these times have their pleasures. 



Philadelphia, 3 July, 1776. 

Your favor 1 of 17th June, dated at Plymouth, was handed 
me by yesterday's post. I was much pleased to find that you 
had taken a journey to Plymouth, to see your friends, in the 
long absence of one whom you may wish to see. The excur- 
sion will be an amusement, and will serve your health. How 
happy would it have made me to have taken this journey with 
you I 

I was informed, a day or two before the receipt of your letter, 
that you was gone to Plymouth, by Mrs. Polly Palmer, who 
was obliging enough, in your absence, to send me the particu- 
lars of the expedition to the lower harbor against the men-of- 
war. Her narration is executed with a precision and perspicuity 
which would have become the pen of an accomplished historian. 

I am very glad you had so good an opportunity of seeing 
one of our little American men-of-war. Many ideas new to 
you must have presented themselves in such a scene ; and you 
will in future better understand the relations of sea engage- 

I rejoice extremely at Dr. Bulfinch's petition to open a hos- 
pital. But I hope the business will be done upon a larger 
scale. I hope that one hospital will be licensed in every county, 
if not in every town. I am happy to find you resolved to be 
with the children in the first class. Mr. Whitney and Mrs. 
Katy Quincy are cleverly through inoculation in this city. 

The information you give me, of our friend's refusing his 
appointment,^ has given me much pain, grief, and anxiety. I 
believe I shall be obliged to follow his example. I have not 
fortune enough to support my family, and, what is of more 
importance, to support the dignity of that exalted station.^ It 
is too high and lifted up for me, who delight in nothing so 
much as retreat, solitude, silence, and obscurity. In private 
life, no one has a right to censure me for following my own 
inclinations in retirement, simplicity, and frugality. Jn public 

' Letters of Mrs. Adams, vol. i. p. 102. 

2 James Warren had been appointed a Judge of the Superior Court. 

3 That of Chief Justice. 



life, every man has a right to remark as he pleases. At least 
he thinks so. 

Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, which ever 
was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor 
wiU be decided among men. A resolution was passed without 
one dissenting colony, " that these United Colonies are, and of 
right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such 
they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, 
conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts 
and things which other States may rightfully do." You will 
see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the causes which 
have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons 
which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of 
confederation will be taken up in a few days. 

When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argu- 
ment concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which 
I have hitherto considered as the commencement of this contro- 
versy between Great Britain and America, and run through the 
whole period, from that time to this, and recollect the series of 
political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised 
at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Bri- 
tain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom. At 
least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the 
will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered for- 
ever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer 
calamities still more wasting, and distresses yet more dreadful. 
If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect at least. 
It will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and 
correct many errors, follies and vices which threaten to disturb, 
dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces 
refinement, in States as well as individuals. And the new 
governments we are assuming in every part will require a 
purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, 
or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded 
power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and 
venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes 
and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable 
as the faith may be, I firmly believe. 


3 July. 

Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven months 
ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious 
effects. We might, before this hour, have formed alliances with 
foreign States. We should have mastered Quebec, and been 
in possession of Canada. You will perhaps wonder how such 
a declaration would have influenced our affairs in Canada, but 
if I could write with freedom, I could easily convince you that 
it would, and explain to you the manner how. Many gentle- 
men in high stations and of great influence have been duped by 
the ministerial bubble of commissioners to treat. And in real, 
sincere expectation of this event, which they so fondly wished, 
they have been slow and languid in promoting measures for the 
reduction of that province. Others there are in the colonies 
who really wished that our enterprise in Canada would be de- 
feated, that the colonies might be brought into danger and dis- 
tress between two fires, and be thus induced to submit. Others 
really wished to defeat the expedition to Canada, lest the con- 
quest of it should elevate the minds of the people too much to 
hearken to those terms of reconciliation, which, they believed, 
would be offered us. These jarring views, wishes, and designs, 
occasioned an opposition to many salutary measures, which 
were proposed for the support of that expedition, and caused 
obstructions, embarrassments, and studied delays, which have 
finally lost us the province. 

All these causes, however, in conjunction, would not have 
disappointed us, if it had not been for a misfortune which could 
not be foreseen, and, perhaps, could not have been prevented — 
I mean the prevalence of the smallpox among our troops. This 
fatal pestilence completed our destruction. It is a frown of 
providence upon us, which we ought to lay to heart. 

But, on the other hand, the delay of this declaration to this 
time has many great advantages attending it. The hopes of 
reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by multitudes of 
honest and well-meaning, though weak and mistaken people, 
have been gradually and, at last, totally extinguished. Time 
has been given for the whole people maturely to consider the 
gi-eat question of independence, and to ripen their judgment, 
dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discussing it in 


newspapers and pamphlets, by debating it in assemblies, con- 
ventions, committees of safety and inspection, in town and 
county meetings, as well as in private conversations, so that 
the whole people, in every colony of the thirteen, have now 
adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union, and 
avoid those heats, and perhaps convulsions, which might have 
been occasioned by such a declaration slx months ago. 

But the day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be 
the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am 
apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding genera- 
tions as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be com- 
memorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion 
to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and 
parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and 
illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from 
this time forward, forevermore. 

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am 
not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that 
it will cost, us to maintain this declaration, and support and 
defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the 
rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is 
more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph 
in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which 
I trust in God we shall not. 


Philadelphia, 9 July, 1776. 

Yours of the 5th came to me the 8th. You will see by this 
post, that the river is passed, and the bridge cut away. The 
Declaration was yesterday published and proclaimed from that 
awful stage in the State-house yard; by whom, do you think? 
By the Committee of Safety, the Committee of Inspection, and 
a great crowd of people. Three cheers rended the welkin. The 
battalions paraded on the Common, and gave us ihefeu de joie, 
notwithstanding the scarcity of powder. The bells rang all day 
and almost all night. Even the chimers chimed away. The 


election for the city was carried on, amidst all this lurry, with 
the utmost decency and order. Who are chosen, I cannot say; 
but the list was Franklin, Rittenhouse, Owen Biddle, Cannon, 
Schlosser, Matlack, and Kuhl. Thus you see the efTect of men 
of fortune acting against the sense of the people ! 

As soon as an American seal is prepared, I conjecture the 
Declaration will be subscribed by all the members, which will 
give you the opportunity you wish for, of transmitting your 
name among the votaries of independence.^ 

I agree with you that we never can again be happy under a 
single particle of British power. Indeed, this sentiment is very 
universal. The arms are taken down from every public place. 

The army is at Crown Point. We have sent up a great num- 
ber of shipwrights to make a respectable fleet upon the lakes. 

We have taken every measure to defend New York. The 
militia are marching this day in a great body from Pennsylva- 
nia. That of Jersey has behaved well, turned out universally. 
That of Connecticut, I was told last night by Mr. Huntington, 
was coming in the full number demanded of them, and must be 
there before now. We shall make it do, this year, and if we 
can stop the torrent for this campaign, it is as much as we 
deserve, for our weakness and sloth in politics the last. Next 
year we shall do better. New governments will bring new men 
into the play, I perceive ; men of more mettle. 

Your motion last fall for sending ambassadors to France 
with conditional instructions, was murdered ; terminating in a 
committee of secret correspondence, which came to nothing. 

Thank you for the paper and resolves. You are atoning for 
all past imperfections by your vigor, spirit, and unanimity. 

Send along your militia for the flying camp ; do not let them 
hesitate about their harvest. They must defend the field before 
they can eat the fruit. I shall inclose to you Dr. Price.^ He i /^ 
is an independent, I think. 

My compliments to Mr. Johnson, Mr. Carroll, and all your 
friends whom I have the honor to know. 

• " I hope ere this time the decisive blow is struck. Oppression, inhumanity, 
and perfidy have compelled us to it. Blessed be men who effect the work ! I 
envy you. How shall I transmit to posterity that I gave my assent ? " Mr. C.'s 

2 Observations on Civil Liberty, for which Mr. Chase had written. 





Philadelphia, 10 July, 1776. 

Yours of 1st July came duly to hand. The establishment of 
the war-office, as you observe, has given me work enough ; more 
than I have a relish for, and of a kind not very suitable to my 
taste; but I must acquiesce. Should be greatly obliged to any 
officer of the army for a hint of any improvement in the plan, 
and for any assistance in the execution of it. 

The continual reports of our disasters in Canada have not 
intimidated the Congress. On the contrary, in the midst of 
them, more decisive steps have been taken than ever, as you 
must have seen, or will see before this reaches you. The Ro- 
mans never would send or receive an ambassador to treat of 
peace, when their affairs were in an adverse situation. This 
generous temper is imitated by the Americans. 

You hear there is not candor and harmony between some of 
the members of this body. I wish you would mention the 
names and particulars of the report. The names, I mean, of the 
members between whom it is reported there is not candor and 
harmony. The report is groundless. There is as much candor 
and harmony between the members as generally takes place in 
assemblies, and much more than could naturally be expected 
in such an assembly as this. But there is a prospect now of 
greater harmony than ever. The principal object of dispute is 
now annihilated, and several members are left out. 

In making a return of your division of the army, pray give 
us the name and rank of every officer. We want to make an 
army list for publication. 


Philadelphia, 18 July, 1776. 

Your agreeable letter from Boston the 7th July was handed 
me on Tuesday last by the post. 

The confusions in America, inseparable from so great a revo- 
lution in affairs, are sufficient to excite anxieties in the minds of 


young gentlemen just stepping into life. Your concern for 
the event of these commotions is not to your dishonor. But 
let it not affect your mind too much. These clouds will be 
dispersed, and the sky will become more serene. 

I cannot advise you to quit the retired scene of which you 
have hitherto appeared to be so fond, and engage in the noisy 
business of war. I doubt not you have honor and spirit and 
abilities sufficient to make a figure in the field ; and if the future 
circumstances of your country should make it necessary, I hope 
you would not hesitate to buckle on your armor. But at pre- 
sent I see no necessity for it. Accomplishments of the civil 
and political kind are no less necessary for the happiness of 
mankind than martial ones. We cannot all be soldiers ; and 
there will probably be in a very few years a greater scarcity of 
lawyers and statesmen than of warriors. 

The circumstances of this country from the years 1755 to 
1758, during which period I was a student in Mr. Putnam's 
office, were almost as confused as they are now, and the pros- 
pect before me, my young friend, was much more gloomy than 
yours.^ I felt an inclination, exactly similar to yours, for engag- 
ing in active martial life, but I was advised, and, upon a con- 
sideration of all circumstances, concluded, to mind my books. 
Whether my determination was prudent or not, it is not possible 
to say, but I never repented it. To attain the real knowledge 
which is necessary for a lawyer, requires the whole time and 
thoughts of a man in his youth, and it will do him no good to 
dissipate his mind among the confused objects of a camp. 
Noctiirnd versate manu^ versate diurnd, must be your motto. 

I wish you had told me particularly what lawyers have opened 
offices in Boston, and what progress is made in the practice, 
and in the courts of justice. I cannot undertake to advise you, 
whether you had better go into an office in Boston or not. I 
rather think that the practice at present is too inconsiderable to 
be of much service to you. You will be likely to be obliged 
to waste much of your time in running of errands, and doing 
trifling drudgery, without learning much. Depend upon it, it 
is of more importance that you read much than that you draw 
many writs. The common writs upon notes, bonds, and ac- 

' Mr. Mason had been entered as a student in Mr. Adams's office 


counts, are mastered in half an hour. Common declarations 
for rent, and ejectment, and trespass, both of assault and bat- 
tery and quare clausum fregit, are learned in very nearly as 
short a time. The more difficult special declarations, and 
especially the refinements of special pleadings, are never learned 
in an office. They are the result of experience and long habits 
of thinking. If you read Plowden's Commentaries, you will 
see the nature of special pleadings. In addition to these, read 
Instructor Clericalis, Mallory, Lilly, and look into Rastall and 
Coke. Your time will be better spent upon these authors than 
in dancing attendance upon a lawyer's office and his clients. 
Many of our most respectable lawyers never did this at all. 
Gridley, Pratt, Thacher, Sewall, Paine, never served regularly 
in any office. 

Upon the whole, my young friend, I wish that the state of 
public affairs would have admitted of my spending more time 
with you. I had no greater pleasure in this life than in assist- 
ing young minds possessed of ambition to excel, which I very 
well know to be your case. Let me entreat you not to be too 
anxious about futurity. Mind your books. Sit down patiently 
to Plowden's Commentaries ; read them through coolly, delibe- 
rately, and attentively ; read them in course ; endeavor to 
make yourself master of the point on which the case turns ; 
remark the reasoning and the decision ; and tell me a year 
hence whether your time has not been more agreeably and 
profitably spent than in drawing writs and running of errands. 
I hope to see you ere long. I am obliged to you for this letter, 
and wish a continuance of your correspondence. I am anxious, 
very anxious, for my dear Mrs. Adams and my babes. God 
preserve them. I can do them no kind office whatever. 


Philadelphia , 21 July, 1776. 
Your favor of the 19th, from Trenton, reached me yesterday. 
It is very true that Ave were somewhat alarmed at the last clause 
in your constitution. It is a pity that the idea of returning 


under the yoke was held up in so good a system, because it 
gives something to say to a very unworthy party.^ 

I hope you will assume the style of the Commonwealth of Neiu 
Jersey^ as soon as your new government is completed. Virginia 
has done it, and